Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Butterfinger Cookies

I hope everyone had an enjoyable labor day weekend!

I mentioned making Butterfinger cookies to the guys in my life a little while ago and so when I pulled out a cookbook to look for a treat to make this past weekend I was greeted by a confused look and the sentence, "Why aren't you making Butterfinger cookies, I like butterfingers".  So, it is a little simple for what I wanted to do my last weekend of freedom before school consumes my life but alas, I caved and a delicious batch of cookies was made.  The timing also worked out perfectly because my cousin is leaves for Marine Boot Camp next week and I promised to bring a treat to share at a little get together we were having for him.

The recipe is pretty simple and the ingredients needed are:
1 1/4cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. butterfinger bars, chopped (roughly 3 regular sized bars)
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Next, in a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. (*Note-My cookies turned out a little salty because of the salt that is also in the candy bars so you could probably cut back on the salt to just a little pinch to nothing at all)

Mix the butter and sugar in another bowl.  When they are combined add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Slowly, stir in the dry ingredients.  When that is finished, crush the candy into small pieces and begin stirring in the candy pieces.  (You can chill the dough for a half hour or so if you want, I didn't and the cookies turned out fine.)

Form teaspoon sized dough balls and put out on cookie sheets.  (The recipe I used says to put them on greased cookie sheets, I forgot to grease mine and the cookies still came off in one piece. )

Put the cookies in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.  And VOILA-candy cookies!

They taste very similar to peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies-however they are made with candy, so that makes it a little more fun.  They got good review from my cousins and I really enjoyed them.

I had to leave a note at my house to make sure that they were not all eaten up while I was away-miraculously the note worked, there are still 2 whole cookies left a little over 24 hours later! It was a happy surprise to come home from the first day of school and be able to eat a little treat that I had been looking forward to the entire day.  They also provided a slight delight last night as I was doing homework that a teacher had assigned to be turned in the first day of school and feeling like a bitter little bird while doing it.  The pleasure of food is an amazing comfort.

Side note:
Now that it is back to reality and eat/sleep/breathing speech, language, hearing sciences-I will be updating probably every 1 1/2 to 2 weeks as fits my schedule.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vanilla Cheesecake

After I made the truffles last week I started to think about what would be fun to make this week.  I narrowed it down to pie or cheesecake.  I took a family vote and cheesecake won.  Even my little feline made his feelings about wanting cheesecake known.
Staring at a picture of cheesecake, hoping for a little taste.

So, cheesecake it was.  I have never tackled anything soufflĂ© like before so was a  little nervous that the cheesecake would not make it to the table. (I have a tendency to want to throw out desserts if they are not perfect)  Luckily my mom and the boy were close by to make sure nothing happened to it.  

I used the vanilla cheesecake recipe from my William-Sonoma Desserts book. I am absolutely in love with this book, everything I have made from it has been fairly simple with amazing and delicious results.

Ingredients for the Crust:
1 1/2 Cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 Cup unsalted, melted butter

Ingredients for the Filling:
4 Packages cream cheese at room temp.
2 Tbsp plain flour
1/4 Tsp salt
1 1/4 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup sour cream
1Tbsp vanilla extract
3 Large eggs

Start by making the crust.  Preheat the oven to 400*F and lightly grease a 9in spring-form pan.  Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter.  Stir so that all the crumbs get evenly moist.  Pour into the spring-form pan and press evenly onto the bottom and up the sides.  Bake the crust until lightly golden - about 10min - then set aside to cool slightly while you make the filling

I was using a 10in pan so the crust didn't go all the way up the sides, but it held together wonderfully.
To make the filling, lower the oven temp to 300*F.  Combine the cream cheese, flour, and salt using a mixer on med-high speed.  Beat until it is very smooth, this may require you to stop frequently to scrap down the sides.  Next, add the sugar, sour cream, and vanilla and again beat until well blended.  Finally, add the eggs one at a time being sure to beat well after every addition.
The filling is very light.
Pour the filling into the crust.  Bake the cake for about 60-70min.  You want the filling to be set but have the center still jiggle slightly as well as the edges slightly puffed.  When finished baking, turn off the oven and leave the door open if you can so that the cake cools slowly to prevent a collapse.  After 10 minutes or so remove the cake from the oven and let sit until it reaches room temperature.  Once it reaches room temp, cover and refrigerate until well chilled-overnight it best.

The center didn't collapse!

The crust held up fairly well too.

Making this cheesecake provided me with many laughs.  First, while making this cake I was singing along to the Broadway show "Wicked" and dancing in the kitchen while taking pictures of food.  I used to poke fun at my mother for taking pictures of food, I had thought it was rather odd, and here I was taking pictures.  I also remember her and her sister singing and dancing while cooking a dinner sometime last year.  It then dawned on me that I am turning into my mother.  I knew it would happen eventually but it is still slightly scary.

After that, my dad came home and was devastated that he would have to wait an entire 24 hours until he could eat the cake.  Then, just to add insult to injury, the boy (who dubbed himself "The Duke of Deliciousness") and myself made a second cake that day for his brother's birthday on Tuesday.  My dad could not believe there were two good looking cakes in the house that he was not allowed to eat.  

Finally, Tuesday night at 9pm rolled around and the cake was ready to be served.

 After one taste of the cake there were no hard feelings for having to wait to taste the cheesecake.  It was very creamy and got eaten promptly.  It has been a nice treat and my own little "reward" for making it through the first couple days of a new job. 

Finally, I would like to give a huge "Thank You!" to Kristy@My Little Space for giving me this wonderful award.

I am very appreciative that she was thoughtful enough to think of me and my new blog.  Because I am so new I am going to hold onto this award and pass it on later!  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Oreo Truffles

The Boundary Waters trip was a success, all 6 people came back - a little worse for the wear and very tired - but fun was had by all.
My cousin, uncle, moi, my boyfriend, father, and brother on our day canoe trip. 
It was beautiful in a way as only untouched nature can be.
Sunset over Lake Sawbill
  I never did get around to figuring out what to make since many delicious desserts for campfires revolve around the Dutch Oven and I was not very organized in finding and planning out ingredients so s'mores were served instead.  

However, upon returning I had one full day to plan and make a delicious treat for my boyfriend's 21st birthday.  
Us with the Cannoli birthday cake I made him last year for his 20th.

We usually make cakes for each other, but this year it was decided that he would have an ice cream cake.  I am not patient enough to try making a Baked Alaska yet, although it is on my list of desserts to try, so (please do not take away my baking queen crown for this) I purchased a DQ cake.  Even though I did not have to make a cake, I needed to make him some sort of treat, because as everyone knows the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. After getting the ingredients I came home and cranked on some French Broadway Music (from Le Roi Soleil) and I made one of his favorite holiday desserts - Gourmet Oreo Truffles.  

It is very simple to make and tastes heavenly, especially if one is an Oreo lover like me.

1 Package Oreos
8oz. Cream Cheese
Vanilla Almond Bark

1.Crush the entire package of oreos (cream and all) into a fine dust.  I used a food processor to get it into a powder.

2. Mix the cream cheese and Oreo powder in a medium bowl into one large ball.  It can sometimes be tricky so I usually wash my hands and hand mix the two together.

Halfway through mixing

3. Form the mixture into smaller teaspoon size balls and lay out on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.  Put the balls into a fridge or freezer for 10 minutes or until chilled so that they will keep their shape when dipping in the almond bark.

4. Melt the Almond Bark while the truffle insides are chilling.  When all is melted, using a fork, dip the slightly chilled balls into the almond bark so that it is completely coated.  Set coated truffle back onto wax paper.  When all are coated, put trays back into freezer or fridge until the Almond Bark has hardened.

When they are ready, serve for a delicious and gourmet treat made form one of America's favorite cookies.

I showed up at the boyfriend's house with these and he had to have one right away.  It was a sweet treat for a wonderfully special day.  We celebrated by going out for a little Italian lunch at Cosetta's in St. Paul and went out to eat later that night with his family for dinner and his first sips of alcoholic beverages, none of which really appealed to his taste buds.  All around it was a wonderful day spending another birthday with him.  

Together at the Boundary Waters
However, next year I will have to make an extra special cake to make up for buying one this year.  I had better start devising and researching delectables for next year....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Torte

Today was my father's birthday and after being dubbed the dessert queen - partially by my family and partially by myself  after making desserts for many family events over the last 6 months- I was charged with the task of making his birthday cake.  I talked to my dad about what kind of cake he would want and he mentioned carrot cake (which I am not the biggest fan of and it is a little difficult to put a lot of time into something you really don't like) and couple of other ideas until he said two magic words:  "Chocolate Chocolate" and this chocolate torte from the William-Sonoma Desserts book was chosen.

This dessert is rather simple to make and has been a favorite the couple of times I have made it.  In order to make this delicious morsel you will need the following ingredients:

Flourless Chocolate Torte
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (For dusting)
10oz. Bittersweet Chocolate (or dark works just as well if you are a chocoholic like myself)
3/4 cup Unsalted Butter
5 Large Egg Yolks
1/4 cup and 2 Tblsp Sugar
1Tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt
3 Large Egg Whites

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup Butter
8oz Bittersweet Chocolate (or, again, dark chocolate if you prefer)
2Tblsp Light Corn Syrup

**Now the next part just a suggestion - turn on some music.  I turned on The Fray and sung and danced around the kitchen to that while mixing the ingredients but whatever suits you works perfectly fine.  You know you are doing it right when your dog cannot stand to be in the kitchen with you and your slightly psychotic cat stares at you oddly which is the reaction I got from them**

1) Preheat the oven to 300*F.

2) Use a double-boiler to melt the butter and chocolate.  It is suggested that you cut up the butter into at least 6 pieces and chop (or break as I did) the chocolate squares up so that the melting is easier.  When the two are well blended set it aside to cool slightly.

3) In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt.  You want the consistency to become very thick and the color slightly pale.
I had to take a picture of the yolks because this is the first time I have separated all the yolks from the whites without breaking them.  I was very excited, what 21 year old wouldn't be?

4) Gradually pour the chocolate mix into the large bowl and beat the two mixtures together until it is all well blended.  Set that bowl aside.

5.) In another bowl, preferably a deep one, beat the egg yolks until they are foamy.  Gradually add the rest of the sugar (2 Tblsp) and continue to beat until medium-firm peaks form.
This is the portion of the dessert that I got mad the egg whites because the first time I tried to get peaks to form I beat them for 7 minutes with no result.  I then tried again with fresher eggs and Voila! 
6.) Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture - about half the bowl at a time.  Continue to fold the two together until there are not streaks left.
This is just after starting to fold in the 2nd half of the egg whites.

7.) Pour the mixture into an 8-in round, greased pan.  And if you so desire, dust the bottom and edges with the cocoa powder.  Put the mixture in the over for roughly 35 minutes.  The torte should puff slightly.  Let the baked torte sit and cool on a rack for 30 or so minutes.

Combine the butter and chocolate in the double boiler.  As stated above, it is best to cut and chop the butter and chocolate into smaller pieces.   Once the two are well blended add the light corn syrup and whisk it in so that the chocolate looks glossy.

Slowly pour the glaze over the center of the torte.  The glaze should cover the entire cake evenly by spilling over the sides.  The William-Sonoma way is the place a plate under the wire cooling rack and pour the glaze over the torte so that the excess runs off the cake and onto the plate below ultimately making the presentation better for fancy occasions because you will not have the excess chocolate around on the plate.  However, I just put the cake on the plate and poured the glaze that way and wiped the excess chocolate off with a  wet paper towel.  Let the cake chill until the glaze is firm and then you may serve,
I chose to serve the torte with raspberries like in the book picture.

The tartness of the berries complimented the sweetness of the torte perfectly.

Not only was this torte the perfect dessert for a wonderful birthday celebration but baking has a way of relieving stress from life.  I had just come from a job interview and applying for some credit card thing at the bank after having put it off for a good couple of months so it was nice to come home, turn on some music and smell that wonderful smell that is butter and chocolate melted together.  After finishing the torte portion of the cake I went for a coffee date with one of my good friends who leaves tomorrow for France for the semester.  It was a very bittersweet goodbye knowing that I will see her again but it won't be for a couple of months, oh how I wish I could go with and travel around France for a period of time. I must admit, I love France, French Culture and French Desserts.  I will get myself there - someday!  

But after the bittersweet goodbye I again came home to the amazing smell of chocolate while I prepared the glaze.  I admit I did take a spoonful of the glaze before adding the corn syrup because I could not resist the temptation, I am only human.

It was a very productive day all in all and I learned a very important lesson: when in doubt, chocolate understands.  My dad had a wonderful birthday, the torte was delicious,and now I look onward to the next thing: Camping in the Boundary Waters this weekend and maybe conquering the Dutch Oven with some help unless I can figure out another type of dessert to make while camping (besides s'mores.)