Monday, April 25, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tonight, I had a big craving for chocolate chip cookies. For a moment (just for an itsy bitsy moment), I thought about being good and just eating some fruit. BUT! I gave in… sigh… Oh well, right?
I made chocolate-coconut cookies yesterday for our Easter gathering and they were a big success! I got the recipe for the cookies from yesterday and the ones I just HAD to make tonight from Vittles and Bits. These cookies were just DIVINE! The smell of fresh-baked cookies all around my kitchen is absolutely wonderful. I already have had a few cookies…
I am sharing with you two recipes: regular chocolate chip cookies and chocolate-coconut cookies. I even made the chocolate-coconut cookies with 2 different kinds of “filling”.
Below is the adaptation I made. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
~makes about 3 dozen

2 C. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
12 T. (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter, cooled slightly
1 C. brown sugar, packed
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 t. vanilla extract
1.5 C. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 and melt butter in microwave. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk dry ingredients together; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter & sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined.  Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips.
Use a small ice cream scoop (or 2 regular tablespoons) to dispense the cookie dough.
Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft & puffy (10-12 minutes in my oven).
Cool cookies on sheets, until able to lift in one piece. Cool on wire rack.

Chocolate-Coconut Cookies
~makes about 2 dozen

1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
1/2 C. white sugar
1/4 C. light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 C. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
Optional fillings:
1 C. semisweet chocolate chips + 1 C. sweetened flaked coconut   OR
½ C. white chocolate chips + ½ C. dried cranberries (Craisins) + ½ C. Shredded Coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Recipes adapted from:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hummingbird Cake

Happy Easter everyone! Like I had mentioned in my earlier post, I got to make a lot sweet treats for our Easter family gathering. I must say, it was a baker’s heaven! Another treat I made was this wonderful Hummingbird cake from Joy of Baking. Hmm… why is it called hummingbird? It certainly doesn’t include any birds of the sort, BUT! One story I read online was that it is called Hummingbird cake because the cake is so heavenly sweet that it can make these little birds very happy! Well, I am no bird myself, but it did make me happy! The combination of banana and pineapple (I actually pureed fresh pineapple) was very nice. I am always nervous to make whole cakes rather than cupcakes because of the cake deforming phase, but this came out very nicely (just need to spray the cake pan very well). Hope yours turns out well!
Again, hope you had a lovely weekend and may you be blessed with the love of God!

 Hummingbird Cake

1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup safflower, corn, or canola oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 - 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, do not drain
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3-4 medium sized bananas)

Pecan Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound box (about 3 2/3 cups) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Pecan halves, for garnish (optional)

Hummingbird Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the rack in the center of the oven. Butter or spray two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. 
Place the pecans on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop finely.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.
In another large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, vanilla extract, pineapple, mashed bananas, and finely chopped pecans. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for about 25 to30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting. 
Frosting: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and cream cheese, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract and then stir in the finely chopped pecans.
To assemble: Place one cake, top side down, onto your serving platter. Spread with about a third of the frosting. Gently place the other cake layer, top of cake facing up, onto the frosting, and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish with pecan halves. Refrigerate the cake for about one hour so the frosting has time to set.
Serves 10 - 12 people.

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chocolate Nest Cookies

Happy Easter Weekend everyone! My family and I will be celebrating Easter at my parents’ house this year. When asked what I wanted to bring to the celebration, I eagerly requested to make the desserts (huh, what a surprise, right?). Anywho, with my husband giving up sweets for this Lenten season, I have been less enthusiastic to make any sweet treats because my #1 taste-tester was out of commission! So all the different ideas/recipes I’ve been wanting to try I have saved up till this weekend, and I am having a baking marathon! Hurray!!!
If you are looking for an easy treat to take to someone’s house (or indulge in yourself) then look no further! This recipe is originally from Carrots n Chocolate and when I first saw it, I couldn’t believe how simple it seemed to be! All you need are 3 ingredients: fiber cereal (I used All Bran by Kellogg’s), milk chocolate to melt, and decorative eggs (I used Mini Robin Whopper Eggs). That’s it! I was super impressed with the simplicity of this treat and at the same time at how cute they look!

Chocolate Nest Cookies

8 ounces of milk chocolate, melted
7 ounces (about 1/2 box) of fiber cereal (I used All Bran)
1 bag of robin egg look-alike candies (I used Whoppers Mini Robin Eggs)
Parchment paper or plastic wrap

1.    Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper (not an essential step, but it makes clean-up super easy!)
2.    Stir the melted chocolate and cereal together in a bowl until the cereal is evenly coated.
3.    Drop with a spoon onto a baking sheet and form little "nests." This is the tricky step: at first, the chocolate covered cereal does not seem to want to stick together. Trust the process; it all sticks together when the chocolate hardens.
4.    Gently press eggs into each nest while the chocolate is still soft.
5.    Cool in the fridge or at room temperature for about 15-20 minutes – you will see that the chocolate gets hard enough that you can pick up the entire cookie in one piece.

Recipe shared from Carrots n Chocolate