Archive for February, 2012

Cowboy Cookies

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

As you may have noticed, I come from a family that bakes a lot. I grew up having dessert every night. Every now and then, my Dad would say “I think we’re going to stop having dessert around here.” We found that about as funny as the “I think we’re going to stop having presents at Christmas” joke.

After so many years of baking projects, three cookie recipes have emerged as the very best we’ve found or tried. The first, I have already shared with you: Chewy Brownie Cookies. I made them with mint for Christmas, but they didn’t need any improvement – the simple chocolate chip version is a home run every time.

The second recipe we make regularly are these Cowboy Cookies. These cookies are perfect. They’re fun because you can experiment with the sweet elements. The version I’m sharing today is what I would consider the classic – it contains oats, chocolate chips, and raisins.

However, in the past I’ve had fun using peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, and white chocolate chips. Sometimes I use raisins and sometimes I just don’t want anything to interfere with the chocolate so I leave them out…both ways are good!

I hope you make these! Or else save the recipe for your next potluck/rainy day/sick day/Tuesday. You won’t be sorry!

Cowboy Cookies

Recipe slightly adapted from a very old clipping from the Chicago Tribune

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup raisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat well. Sift the dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture along with the oats, chocolate chips, and raisins. Mix thoroughly. Drop from a teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Note: If you don’t use raisins, you can increase the chocolate chips to 1 1/2 cups.

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Chocolate Chip and Mascarpone Cupcakes

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

This past weekend we celebrated my brother-in-law Sky’s birthday. He asked for cupcakes, and when I asked what flavor he wanted, he said “Chocolate with chocolate please.” Always an excellent choice!

I searched online for a good cupcake recipe and came across Giada’s Chocolate Chip and Mascarpone Cupcakes. I was especially drawn to this recipe because I’ve never tasted or baked with¬†mascarpone before.

I have to say I am a fan! Mascarpone is an Italian cheese with a controversial pronunciation (I just say it really fast and hope nobody listens closely). It is creamy and decadent. Warning: it is also expensive!

I was also grateful to this recipe for its ganache, as it was much easier to transport than towering mountains of frosting…

The one customization I made was to sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top. I think adding extra chocolate whenever possible is a good life principle to abide by.

I’m grateful to my little brother for helping me transport the cupcakes, especially because I was feeling very focused and wildly protective of them. I think I told him that if he jostled them on the ride over I would end him. I felt bad and apologized for behaving like a crazy psycho about my cupcakes, to which he mentioned that was an “understatement” but that I was forgiven. We have such a good relationship!

As it turned out, there was no need for nerves because the cupcakes were a chocolaty success, and the party was a great time. Happy Birthday to Sky!!

I followed Giada’s recipe word for word (besides adding the chocolate chips on top). So rather than paraphrase it here, I’ll just send you to the original. You can find the recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/everyday-italian/chocolate-chip-and-mascarpone-cupcakes-recipe/index.html.

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Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Friday, February 10th, 2012

I have noticed a pattern in the the type of recipes I gravitate towards – easy ones!

I love this bark recipe because it is both easy and totally delicious. I made the Easter version last year, and thought I would try a Valentine’s Day edition.

I think this bark would be perfect to bring to any event around Valentine’s Day – it would also be enjoyable to make with kids. The step-by-step process is so fun¬† – I felt a little like a painter!

You begin with melted chocolate…

…and add dollops of red candy melts.


You’ll notice I got a little carefree with my dollops – that’s ok! That’s the fun part of this process. It’s your masterpiece and in the end it won’t matter because the next step is swirling!

Swirl up and down, then side to side.

I will say that next time I make this I’ll use a little less of the candy melts – I like to see plenty of chocolate showing. But again, with this recipe it doesn’t really matter.

Sprinkle on any kind of candy you like. Personally, I’m not too particular about the flavors matching up with this bark – it’s fun to have a mix of fruity and chocolate. You can add even more candy than I did if you feel so inclined.

Let the chocolate set for 3 hours, then chop up the bark and you are good to go!

Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Makes about 25 servings

Ingredients
1 12-ounce package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 12-ounce package Milk Chocolate Chips
10 ounces Red Vanilla Candy Melts (or a little less than a 12-ounce package)

1/2 cup (more or less) of the following (or any other Valentine’s Day inspired candy):
Milk Chocolate M&Ms (Valentine’s Day version)
SweeTarts Hearts Gummies
Brach’s Valentine Jelly Beans

Directions

Lay a large piece of parchment paper on your workspace.

Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl at 30-second intervals, stirring at each interval. Be careful not to burn the chocolate.

Spread the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper in the shape of a rectangle, approximately 9 by 12 inches.

Melt the candy melts with the same process described above, or according to the directions on the package. Using a spoon, drop the melted candy onto the chocolate bark (9-12 dollops).

Using a knife, swirl up and down through the rectangle, then back and forth.

Sprinkle the candy of your choice on top of the rectangle, and press down lightly. Let the bark set for 3 hours. Cut into pieces and enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

I do love the weekends…

I love weekend morning trips to West Seattle, especially when they contain Twice Baked Chocolate Croissants and foamy lattes from Bakery Nouveau.

It also doesn’t hurt if the weekend morning contains fresh morning air off the water and the promise of February sunlight.

The best kind of Saturday nights include getting dressed up, good friends, and late night honey lavender ice cream at Molly Moon’s…yum.

However, we can’t have the weekend all the time! The weekday always returns armed with alarm clocks, rush hour, and demands for productivity! We probably shouldn’t eat ice cream and pastries all the time either…

So, for Tuesdays and Wednesdays and all the other days that are not restdays, here is a milkshake. Specifically, a Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake.

This milkshake is sweet and foamy and fulfilling, but also healthy. In fact you could probably have this for breakfast or lunch and feel pretty good about yourself! The two secrets to success are frozen bananas and sweetened almond milk.

Here’s to normal days that make the special ones memorable!

Peanut Butter Banana Milkshake

Recipe inspired by Joy the Baker

Makes about two servings

Ingredients

2 cups almond milk (original or vanilla flavor)
2 bananas (frozen)
4 tablespoons peanut butter
2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder

Directions

Blend until smooth and foamy. Enjoy!

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Jessie's Kitchen Chronicles