Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Given the fact that I wake up so early Monday through Friday to go to work, I have a hard time sleeping in properly on the weekends. Fortuntley, this means I'm up early enough for the proper calorie filled breakfast feasts that weekends are made for. This was the case this morning when I found myself awake at 8am staring at four ripe bananas that I'd been saving for a moment just like this. I honestly thought I already had my go to banana bread recipe and that no other recipe could compare, but now we have some stiff competition. This banana cinnamon swirl bread is delicious. Please, if you're even entertaining the idea of making banana bread, please, use this recipe:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

First things first: Those chocolate oatmeal bars from the last post were absolutely heavenly. I ate the entire pan myself (with the exception of maybe three or four) by Sunday night, which I thought would be a valid reason to take Monday off of work. As if I needed anymore sweets, I baked these Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate cookies. In my defense, I gave most of the batch to my Nana and only ate two or three or six. I should point out that this picture is not mine (as you can tell by the good quality), I got it from smitten kitchen where I also found the recipe. My own personal pictures aren't uploading correctly and I thought whats a post without a picture? people want to see what their about to create, right? right.
Right off the bat this recipe interested me for two reasons: 1) I'm a huge fan of white chocolate. As gnarly as it may sound to some, I could eat a bar of white baking chocolate by itself and enjoy every bite.  2) I'm a salt fiend. True to the name, these cookie were very crispy. I'm more of a soft and chewy cookie gal, but these were still very pleasant. The bursts of sea salt on top of the oatmeal goodness was divine and a very welcome flare to my taste buds.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

I love baking with oatmeal and I especially love any recipe with chocolate. Combine the two and..well.. I'm in love! So when I was cruising the blogosphere and came across this recipe at Annies's Eats, I immediatley printed it out and went to the pantry to find the ingredients. Another great thing about this recipe is that every ingredient is something that is usually already in your typical pantry. Once I pulled them out of the oven and cut them into squares, they looked just like candy bars. The only problem is that even though I left them in for an extra 5 minutes, the chocolate was still runny and I couldn't leave them in any longer because the oatmeal was browning. I figured it was better to have soft chocolate and perfectly moist oatmeal than burnt chocolate and burnt oatmeal. I refrigerated them overnight (after eating a few, of course..) and it really sealed the bars together. They're perfect!

Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
For the oatmeal layer:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup salted honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
For the chocolate layer:
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the sides of the pan with butter.
2. To make the oatmeal cookie layer: combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed until it is soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
3. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Mix in the oats and peanuts with a rubber spatula until evenly combined.
4. Reserve 1½ cups of the mixture. Place the remaining dough in the prepared pan and press over the bottom of the pan in an even layer.
5. To make the chocolate layer: combine the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the mixture is warm and the chocolate chips and butter are melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and peanuts.
6. Pour the warm chocolate mixture over the oatmeal cookie layer and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Crumble the remaining oatmeal cookie mixture and scatter evenly over the top of the chocolate.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the chocolate layer is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.
8. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into bars and serve!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lemon Cream


Continuing  with the Tuesday night baking tradition, I whipped up a batch of lemon cream cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves had a delectable cake like texture and the perfect hint of lemon flavor with every bite. The frosting had more of a lemon zing so I was careful not frost them too heavily, even though in my opinion the frosting is the best part of any cupcake!

Lemon Cream Cupcakes
Adapted from All Recipes
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure lemon extract
3 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream

3 tbsp butter
2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
2 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and paper line about 30 muffin cups. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add grated lemon peel, vanilla extract, and lemon extract. Mix well. 
2. Combine dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Batter will be thick (and tasty).
3. Fill muffin cups about 1/4 full and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and remove to wire rack to cool completely.
4. For frosting: Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, vanilla, and milk. Beat until smooth. Add more milk as needed for spreading consistency. 
5. Frost cupcakes! 
6. Eat cupcakes!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Oatmeal Joy

The past few weeks I've been baking for my moms faculty meetings on Wednesday mornings. I've made some muffins, fabulous buttermilk banana bread, and I even tried my hand at a Tres Leches Cake recipe from Food Network Magazine to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. Well it was a Tres Disaster. I briefly debated buying more ingredients and testing the recipe again with the hope that it would come out superb the second time around but I quickly realized that that probably wouldn't be the case. So what did I do? I baked oatmeal cookies. Not very festive, but definitely more delicious than any Tres Leches cake (I stand by this statement). 

Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from Joy of Baking

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, dried cherries, chocolate chips, etc..)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used 1 tsp)
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Beat the unsalted butter and sugar until creamy and smooth in the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer. 
3. Add egg and vanilla extract, beat until well combined. 
4. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add flour mixture to the cream mixture and beat until well incorporated.
5. Stir in the oats and raisins.  
6. For large cookies, use 1/4 cup of batter and space the cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Then wet your hand and flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers.
7. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees F or until light golden brown around the edges but still soft and a little wet in the centers. 
These were absolutely delicious although I was only able to eat one since they were for others. It was a good practice in self control. The cinnamon really gives these cookies such a wonderful burst of flavor, I'm very impressed.  My mom said that all of the teachers raved about them. I might have to make a batch for myself tonight :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cookie Redemption

Thank you Martha. Thank you for helping me make up for the previous cookie catastrophe with these banana bread like chocolate chunk cookies. Now I should point out that I used semisweet chocolate chips because they were already in the pantry. I can only imagine that using chunks of a chocolate baking bar take these cookie up a notch. Not only were they simple to bake but they were so deliciously moist and perfectly textured that I couldn't stop reaching for another one!

Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from
1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks*
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside.

2.Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana.

3.Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.

4.Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart.
5.Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely (if you can resist!)