Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brown Sugar Streusel White Chocolate Cranberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cranberries were on sale for a dollar a bag at Safeway yesterday! I am not the proud owner of 5 pounds of cranberries.. good thing they freeze well! You can expect to see many cranberry recipes in the coming weeks. I am starting off with a brown sugar streusel white chocolate cranberry cream cheese coffee cake. Whew.... longest name ever, but it's so chock full of good stuff! I used a recipe borrowed from Alicia's Homemaking, a lovely blog with lots of good recipes and home making tips. To her recipe, I added fresh cranberries and white chocolate chips. I also decided to try it topped off with streusel. The streusel got a bit browner than I like. But the end result was a crisp, buttery brown sugar coating that goes great with the creamy cake. and OH MAN the cake is good! Super creamy thanks to the cream cheese and studded with juicy cranberries and sweet, milky white chocolate chips. Delicious overload and the perfect way to use up your left over cranberries, right??

White Chocolate Cranberry Coffee Cake (shortened title)
Recipe Adapted from Alicia's Homemaking
Makes 2 Loafs

1/2 cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 to 1 cup white chocolate chips (depends how much extra sweetness you want)
1 cup cranberries
(I gave mine a quick chop, but you could use them whole too) tossed with 1 tablespoon flour and a sprinkle of sugar (so they don't sink to the bottom)

Streusel topping
1 stick butter (softened a bit)
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream sugar, butter, cream cheese and eggs together in a large bowl. Add vanilla, salt, and baking powder.
Gradually add in the flour, keeping the mixture smooth. Add milk.
Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
Pour into greased, floured or sugared (I sugar my pans) pans, dividing batter in half.
For the topping, mix together butter, flour, and brown sugar until they have the texture of wet sand.
Sprinkle over the batter covering completely.
Put cakes in the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
*Note: The streusel turns very dark brown (I used dark brown sugar), but it caramelizes and gives a lovely crunch to the cake. If you are not a fan, by all means, make the cakes without the streusel and they will still be delicious :)
Happy New Years (I know I'm a little early),

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Starbucks Style Maple Nut Scones

Happy day after Christmas! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and were able to relax and enjoy friends, family, and delicious food! I was up in Canada with my sister, brother in-law and nephew. It was COLD! My first white Christmas in a long time. What better way to start a chilly morning than with a hearty scone? I particularly enjoy Starbucks scones, my two favorites are their cinnamon chip scones and the maple nut scones. I recently acquired the "Top Secret Recipe's" cookbook, it is chock full of delicious restaurant knockoffs, including several recreations of Starbucks' baked goods. This recipe for their Maple Nut Scones is spot on! The addition of maple flavoring gives the scones and frosting rich flavor and the pecans and oats add a hearty crunch. Now all I need to do is figure out how to make a killer homemade latte....

Maple Nut Scones
Recipe from Top Secret Recipes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold butter
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 large egg
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons imitation maple flavoring

Maple Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
4 teaspoons half-and-half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
Use a pastry knife or a fork to cut the cold butter into the dry mixture (I use a cheese grater and grate the butter in, much easier in my opinion!).
Stir in the chopped walnuts.
Use an electric mixer to combine the egg, brown sugar, half-and-half, and maple flavoring in a medium bowl.
Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and blend with electric mixer until firm, then use your hands to mix the dough until you can form it into a ball.
Pat the dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1 1/4 inches thick. Shape the dough into a rectangle, and then cut the dough into 12 small triangles.
Arrange the triangles on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or just until the scones begin to turn light brown on the edges.
As the scones cool, combine the icing ingredients in a bowl.
When scones have cooled, spread with icing.
So tasty...
Where's my latte?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sugar N' Spice Truffles

Holiday Baking Part II! For the next installment of holiday baking, I present to you... Sugar and Spice Truffles! These really are very simple to make, just whip up a cake, crumble it up with some frosting, shape into balls and cover with white chocolate. Nothing tricky about that! These were my first foray into the world of "cake pops," a phenomenon that has swept the blogosphere a little blog named Bakerella. The key to getting good looking truffles is making sure the cake balls are chilled before dipping in the chocolate, that way they don't fall apart. I recommend checking out the tutorial found on the Pioneer Woman blog.The version that I tried combines the wonderfully Christmassy flavors of ginger and nutmeg (spice cake) with a white chocolate coating topped with a sparkly sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar. Last minute gift? Consider it done.

Sugar and Spice Truffles
1 box spice cake mix (plus ingredients called for on box)
1/2 tub store bought vanilla frosting
4 cups white chocolate candy melts
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Make cake as directed on box for a 9x13 inch pan. When cake is done, put in the fridge a few hours until completely cooled. When cooled, crumble cake into a large bowl. Add frosting and mix until it all sticks together (I used my hands and formed a big ball). Using a melon baller (or a tablespoon) form balls of dough, roll between palms to form smooth balls.
Place on a foil lined baking sheet. Put in fridge to chill for at least two hours.
Once cake balls are firmly chilled, melt chocolate in a double boiler on the stove. Remove cake balls from fridge and drop three to four at a time in the melted chocolate.
Spoon chocolate over top of truffles, when coated, remove truffle from chocolate using a spoon.
Tap against the side of the bowl a few times to remove excess chocolate.
Set on a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and sugar.
Let cool until chocolate is completely set. Store tightly covered at room temperature.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cookie Brittle Revisited

Remember this post about easy peasy cookie brittle? Well, for employee gifts at work this year I tried a few variations on the original that I would like to share with you! First version.... Mint Chip Cookie Brittle.
All I did was switch out chocolate chips for a mix of dark chocolate chips and mint chips. The other type I made involved the addition of dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.
This was my fave! Something about cranberries puts me in the holiday spirit... They just seem so jolly! The lovely thing about this brittle recipe is you could really mix in whatever goodie you have in the cupboard. If it works in a cookie, it should work as Cookie Brittle, nuts, peanut butter, coconut, raisins, oats... other ideas?

Cookie Brittle Two (or more) Ways
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups mix-ins (cranberries, white chocolate, mint chips, whatever!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie pan with parchment paper. Mix the butter and vanilla together.
Add in the flour, sugar, salt and whatever add ins you want, using your hands or a wooden spoon mix it all together until well combined.
The dough will be fairly dry and crumbly. Dump the dough onto lined cookie sheet.
Press it into a thin layer using your hands. Mine didn't completely fill the cookie tray. The thinner you press it, the crispier it will be and the quicker it will cook, so adjust accordingly.
Bake for 20 minutes, check, if edges are lightly brown and center is set, remove from oven. Allow to cool COMPLETELY (this is probably the hardest part, I put the whole tray in the fridge to speed up the process ☺).
Break up into pieces, give gifts!

Fudge Brownie Cookie Bars

As you may have noticed I have not been blogging as much as usual lately... and believe me I MISS IT! I miss all you wonderful people who read my blog, encourage me, and try my recipes... SO I'm back! The reason for my absence? Christmas craziness! Between work, having to bake for numerous holiday potlucks and the gym (I needed it after all those potlucks!), I have had NO time for ANYTHING in between... including sleep, so excuse me if I sound a bit incoherent! But the silver lining to this busy busy cloud is the BAKING part, and don't you worry, I took pictures GALORE and now that I am back to my semi-normal paced life I would love to share them (and the delish recipes) with all of you :) Sound ok? Thus begins Holiday Baking Posts Part I. Easy recipe, delicious results, gone from the dessert table in a matter of minutes. Fudge Brownie Cookie Bars. I love recipes that take two fabulous desserts and seamlessly merge them into one decadent delight. I love them even more when they are super quick but look impressive and elegant. Basically, this recipe involves a layer of rich chocolate brownies topping off a layer of crunchy (and it stays crunchy doesn't go mooshy) sugary cookie. I topped it off with a layer of chocolate ganache fudge ice cream topping. I wasn't sure how that would turn out since it didn't harden up but I loved the finished product. Cookie, brownie, fudge topping... hard to go wrong!

Fudge Brownie Cookie Bars
Adapted from Taste of Home
Cookie Layer Ingredients
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients
1 package fudge brownie mix (13-inch x 9-inch pan size)(*blush* I am a bit embarrassed that this recipe uses both a boxed cake mix and a jar of ice cream topping... but when the results are so tasty... taking the easy way out is just fine).
1 egg
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil

1 package (11-1/2 ounces) milk chocolate chips, melted
OR 3/4 jar Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Topping

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients.
Press onto the bottom of a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.
Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients.
Spread over hot crust.
Bake for 15 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
Spread melted chocolate OR Ice Cream Topping over filling. Cool completely.
Cut into bars.
More holiday baking to come...