Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Recipe Redux

So, yesterday I was flipping through my Mom's recipe book looking for something good to bake, and I came across this recipe that I had posted on here about 2 1/2 years ago.  I remembered writing how good it was, so I made it again, and I definitely wasn't disappointed.  :)  It's so incredibly moist, and it's rich and peanut-buttery, but not overpoweringly so.

It's so good, in fact, that I thought I'd share it with you again!  Here's the (slightly edited) original post below:

December 31, 2010
Here's a recipe that's worth checking out if you're a peanut butter fan! I got this from a Gooseberry Patch book and modified it very slightly. It's called the Peanut Butter Texas Sheet Cake. Here's the recipe (check your fridge for margarine/butter before starting this - the frosting calls for butter too!)

2 c all-purpose flour
2 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c butter (I used margarine)
1 c water
1/4 creamy peanut butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c buttermilk (or make your own - a scant 1/2 c milk with 1 1/2 tsp vinegar, let sit 5 minutes)

Combine flour, sugar, salt and b. soda in a large bowl, set aside. Combine butter, water and peanut butter in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Add to flour mixture and mix well, set aside. Combine eggs, vanilla and buttermilk; add to peanut butter mixture. Spread into a greased 15"x 10" jelly-roll pan. (And sprinkle on a few chocolate chips if your little heart so desires!!!) Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until it springs back when gently touched. Spread Peanut Butter Icing over warm cake. Makes 15-20 servings.

Peanut Butter Icing:
1/2 c butter
1/4 c creamy peanut butter
1/3 c plus 1 T milk
16 oz. pkg. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine butter, peanut butter and milk in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in powdered sugar and vanilla to spreading consistency. (I ran out of powdered sugar and simply added more peanut butter to thicken it up - my Mom's idea. It worked!)

This recipe may take a tiny bit more work than some, but it's definitely worthwhile - it's moist and rich and peanut-buttery. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Most Amazing Cookie Ever: Choco-Caramel Delights

So a few weeks ago, I randomly remembered these cookies, which we hadn't made for YEARS - my Mom wasn't even sure if she still had the recipe around.  She told me to email my amazing aunt (hi, Aunt Kathy!!), who quickly responded with the recipe and allowed me to fulfill my craving.  

These cookies are truly spectacular.  They take a bit more work than your average cookie, but the instant you bite into that warm, gooey, chocolatey-caramelly goodness, you'll know that it was totally worth it!

If you have the ingredients and want to whip these up right now...keep in mind that the preparation time will be extended because the dough needs to chill for a while after you mix it up.

And, to give credit where credit is due, apparently this is a Hershey recipe.

So, here's what you need:

Butter/margarine, sugar, an egg, milk, vanilla, flour, cocoa powder, salt, pecans or walnuts, caramels, cream,  chocolate chips and shortening.

First step: melt the butter.  Gotta love the vintage Tupperware bowl - I'd have to ask my mom, but I think this might be older than I am!  :)  

Next comes the sugar.

Just the egg yolk - set aside the white for later.

A dash of milk.

Ah, here's the egg white...not sure why this picture is all the way down here.  :)  Anyway, set it aside and save it for a later step.

Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa and salt (I apparently decided that that process was not photo-worthy) and then add it to the wet mixture.

Stir it up and admire the promising chocolatey-ness!  

Now, sadly, you must depart from the cookie dough for a little while.  It needs to chill so that it will be firm enough for you to roll later.  If you tried to roll it now, you would be sorely disappointed, and would have to lick all the gloppy, uncooked dough (or is it batter?  I can never remember...) off your fingers.  While that would probably still taste delectable, it's not quite what we're going for here.  So, anyway, stick your batter in the fridge for a bit.

One hour later...

Once the dough is chilled, you're ready for the next step.  Preheat your oven and get out a dish to put the nuts in.  It doesn't have to be as pretty as this one; most any shallow bowl will do.  :)

Dump some walnuts or pecans in.  Now, here's where you can learn from my mistake - I should have chopped these even smaller.  They would stick better and probably cover more cookies, which would be good, since nuts are expensive!  

Roll a little bit of the dough into a ball - these can be quite small, since they will be very rich by the time you're done with them.  Oh, and here's the egg white again.  It's finally time for it to fulfill its purpose in life.

Roll the cookie dough in the (slightly beaten) egg white - this will help the nuts stick.

Roll the egg-white-coated cookie dough ball in the chopped nuts, then set it on the pan and press your thumb into it to make an indentation.

See how the nuts are kind of big in proportion to the cookies?  Oh well - they still tasted good!  :)

If you're quick and clever, you can make the caramel while the cookies are baking.  You should probably have the saucepan ready to go before you put the cookies in the oven, though.  You need just a bit of cream and 14 caramels - the kind you can get at the grocery store.  

Melt them over low heat, stirring often.

Getting there...

And...done!  Nice and smooth and creamy.  Take it off the heat - but you'll want to get it on the cookies fairly quickly, because it will start to firm up a little bit as it cools.

The cookies are done.  Make sure the indentations haven't lost their depth - I used the end of a pizza cutter handle to smoosh the cookies again.  The recipe says to use your thumb, but, um...these cookies just came out of the oven...?  So, unless you have a thumb of steel, I recommend using an alternative for this step.

Spoon in a bit of the warm caramel sauce.  Wow, this is kind of a weird photo.  Anyone else having trouble figuring out what's happening here?  Oh well.  The caramel itself looks nice...

Don't they look amazing?

Yummy!!!  But as phenomenal as theses would be now, they're not quite done yet - there's one more step of deliciousness to add.  So grab your chocolate chips and get ready for the final touch!

Add a little bit of shortening to the chocolate chips and stick it in the microwave for a minute, then stir.  If it's not smooth, you can do additional 30-second increments until it is smooth, or just let it sit for a few minutes, and it'll keep melting.

This is what it'll look like when it's ready.

Drizzle away!  If you wanted to be really fancy (or more even, anyway), you could probably put the chocolate in a plastic bag and cut the tip off, but I like to just put a big blob on a spoon and swing it back and forth.

Now you finally get to sample one of your amazing cookies.  Go ahead - take a bite while the caramel is still warm and gooey.  Just be careful you don't eat the whole batch all in one sitting!!  :)

Here's the complete recipe, with a few minor details such as oven temperature and ingredient quantities...that might come in handy, huh?  :)

Choco-Caramel Delights

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, separated
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
*Caramel Filling (3 T whipping cream and 14 caramels)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

In small mixer bowl (or just using a spoon), beat butter, sugar, egg yolk, milk and vanilla until creamy.  Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; blend into butter mixture.  Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

Heat oven to 350 deg. F.  Beat egg white slightly.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Dip each ball into egg white; roll in nuts to coat.  Place on lightly-greased cookie sheet.  Press thumb gently in center of each ball.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.  Press center of each cookie to make indentation.

Immediately spoon about 1/2 teaspoon Caramel Filling in center of each cookie.  Remove from tray, cool on wire rack or sheet of waxed paper.  Drizzle chocolate chip mixture (melted in a microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute, then stirred smooth) over top of cookies.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Caramel Filling
In small saucepan, place 14 unwrapped light caramels and 3 tablespoons whipping cream.  Cook over low heat, stirring often, until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.

Enjoy!!!  :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Change

Well, things have finally slowed down at work.  I had today off and ended up tackling a project that has needed to be done for a while: this wall over my bed.  Here's a "before" shot.  I'm not sure what I don't like about it, but it has been bugging me for quite some time.  

I singlehandedly used up most of the empty picture frames in the house, but I'm pretty happy with the results.   (See the "after" picture below.)  In particular, I'm glad that I was able to cover up a section of cracked paint in the bottom left corner.

Here's a closer shot.  I used a painting I bought last year, a couple framed Bible verses and lots of photos I've taken.  It's nice to actually be displaying these photos instead of keeping them tucked in a drawer!  

Anyway, that's all I have to say for today...I hope everyone is having a nice start to the week!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Sweet Treat: Jam Thumbprints

Can you believe it's 2013 already?  The final few days of the year really flew by for my family as we headed out of town the day after Christmas for my brother's wedding.  When we got home on the 30th, we were all rather disoriented and felt like 2012 couldn't possibly be over yet...but here we are, 3 days into a new year! 

Well, I'm guessing all your Christmas cookies are probably gone by now, so here's a sweet treat for you to try out.  This is an old family favorite called Jam Thumbprints - I'm not sure if they're classified as shortbread or sugar cookies, but I can tell you that they're delicious!  :)

The ingredients, as pictured below, are pretty simple: sugar, margarine (or butter, of course), eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder and salt.

Melt the butter and mix in the other wet ingredients.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl.

Add the dry to the wet...

...and stir together into a lovely cookie batter!  :)  

Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet and press your thumb into the middle of each cookie.  Add a dab of your favorite jam or jelly.  We always use raspberry preserves, but probably almost any flavor would be delicious!

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  They'll flatten out a bit but will still be pretty pale.

Dust with confectioner's sugar - just be careful you don't inhale any of the powdered sugar while you're eating the cookies!  ;P

And there they are - one batch of deliciousness!

Whoops!  Well, you know what they say - the baker must try one cookie from each batch...I hear the test cookie is calorie-free, too...  ;P

"Hot cookies - come and get them!!"  That is what we shout when we're done baking, and this is the result:

This is why we usually double or triple the batch in our household.  :)

Here's the complete recipe:

Jam Thumbprints

1 C sugar
1 1/4 C margarine
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp. B. powder
1/2 tsp. salt

Melt butter and mix in other wet ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and then stir into wet mixture.  Spoon 1-2 T. onto greased cookie sheet and then press you thumb into the center to create a spot for the jam.  Spoon jam flavor of your choice into the cavity.   Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Once the cookies have baked, remove from the tray to cool.  After a few minutes (while still warm, but not piping hot) sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over the cookies. 

Happy New Year!!!  :)