Monthly Archives

March 2010

Peanut Butter-White Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 17, 2010

When I first started baking, chocolate chip cookies were my greatest source of frustration. It seemed that everyone except me had their own trademark recipe. And while I could properly duplicate a batch from the back of the Toll House bag, it wasn’t enough. After two years and many trials, it finally happened. It was love at first bite and after that moment, there was no looking back.

At this point you might be wondering where the chocolate chips are. The short answer is there aren’t any. People, just as much as recipes and the food itself, influence me in the kitchen. And so when a high school friend told me he didn’t like chocolate chips, a substitution of white chocolate and peanut butter chips seemed appropriate. But the adaptations and add-ins don’t stop there.

When I first made these cookies, I was cooking with Mexican vanilla I had lugged home in my suitcase after a recent vacation. If you’re not familiar with Mexican vanilla, it has a hint of cinnamon flavor, and when my bottle ran out, I started adding cinnamon into the cookies to compensate. The drizzle of molasses builds on the rich cinnamon flavor, giving the cookies a slightly deeper flavor and an extra bit of chewiness. Add in some peanut butter and a whole lot of peanut butter and white chocolate chips and you have yourself one heck of a cookie, though I think calling it a chocolate chip cookie at this point would be a bit misleading.

Peanut Butter-White Chocolate Chip Cookies
*3/4 cup butter
*3/4 cup sugar
*3/4 cup brown sugar
*2 large eggs
*1/4 cup peanut butter
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*2 tsp. vanilla extract
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/2 Tbsp. full-flavored molasses
*1 tsp. baking soda
*2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup peanut butter chips
*3/4 cup white chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease or line with parchment paper two baking sheets. Set aside.
*With an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in the sugar and brown sugar, and beat on medium speed for 4 minutes. (Trust me on this one, the mixture will become pale and fluffy and allow the sugar to blend with the butter. Just time it out – 4 minutes.)
*Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Beat in the peanut butter, cinnamon, salt, and molasses.
*Mix together the flour and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two additions, beating just until flour is combined.
*Beat in the peanut butter chips and white chocolate chips by hand. Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the greased or lined baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes. (I find 13 minutes to be perfect) Remove from oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Place on wire racks and cool completely.
*Side note: Prior to this post, I swore I would never give up this recipe. But after some consideration, I feel that it would be cruel not to share it. Bake, eat, and enjoy!
Happy Baking!

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

March 17, 2010

Last night, one of my oldest and dearest friends (yeah, I know I’m only 22 so how ‘old’ can this friend really be, but just play along) gave me a call to catch up. Like me, he recently graduated from college and is adjusting to life in the real world, which includes feeding himself.

I’m not entirely sure how the topic of eating habits came up, but after our conversation I’m pretty sure he wishes it hadn’t. Because after telling me he eats up to 10 fast-food meals a week, starts every morning off with a Pop Tart, and gets on average one fruit or vegetable a day, I went on to spend the next 20 minutes telling him how he is going to die prematurely or live the rest of his life dependent on prescription medications. Yup, I can be a charmer on the telephone. I promise, it was all said out of love.

But what our conversation really did was get me thinking – about food, nutrition, and taking small steps in the right direction. Maybe it’s not about being perfectly healthy, just a bit healthier than the day before. So while my plan was to make these muffins with 100% whole wheat flour, I reconsidered and tried to create a breakfast muffin that would be healthier than a Pop Tart but would satisfy those, like my friend, who are reluctant and skeptical.

Many times whole wheat flour gives baked goods a denser, heavier texture. So to mimic the texture of a muffin made with 100% all-purpose flour while adding in a fiber-rich dose of whole grains I settled on a combination of 50/50 all-purpose flour and instant oats. I found the combination to be the compromise I was hoping for. Instant oats, which are ground finer than regular rolled oats, don’t weigh down the texture of the muffins like whole wheat flour might and instead yield a light, airy texture. The other great part of this recipe is its adaptability. Feel free to play around by substituting a cup of canned pumpkin, cooked and mashed sweet potato, or grated zucchini for the mashed bananas.

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins
Loosely adapted from “Whole Wheat Muffins” by The New York Times
*1/2 cup butter, melted
*2 medium bananas, mashed
*1 egg
*1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/4 tsp. baking soda
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1 1/4 cup instant oats
*3/4 cup sugar
*2 Tbsp. brown sugar
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 375*F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and set aside.
*In a bowl with a fork or whisk, mix together butter, bananas, egg, milk, cinnamon, baking soda, powder, and salt until well combined.
*In another bowl, mix together flour, oats, and sugar. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
*Evenly divide batter among the 12 muffin cups. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the 12 muffins. Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Happy (healthy) Baking!


Amaretto Chocolate Truffles

March 15, 2010

Ahhh if only every weekend could be a four-day weekend. Needless to say, a trip to the mountains of Winter Park was much needed. While I did manage to escape from reality for a few days, the flight back gave me ample time to think about what I wanted to share with you all. When I got home I set down my suitcase, made a list, and headed to the grocery store for supplies. Then I got back to work in the kitchen with my camera. Vacations are great, but it feels good to be home.

After last week’s Triple Chocolate Tart post, I realized that I have posted only a small handful of chocolate recipes. It’s not that I don’t like chocolate, it’s just that I don’t ever really crave it. But when I do have chocolate, it has to be good. I hate to quote Martha Stewart too many times, but sometimes it’s just necessary. These truffles are a very good thing.

Amaretto Chocolate Truffles
*10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
*3/4 cup heavy cream
*2 Tbsp. Amaretto liquor
*1/4 tsp. kosher (coarse) salt
*Chocolate sprinkles, coconut, chocolate shavings, or other coating of choice

*Chop chocolate into coarse pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
*Heat cream, stirring frequently, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until cream begins to steam slightly and a few bubbles appear at surface. Remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted completely and smooth. Add in Amaretto and salt. Stir until well combined.
*Pour melted chocolate mixture into 9×13 pan, spreading into a thin, even layer. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
*Remove from refrigerator. Scoop out heaping teaspoons of the chocolate mixture and form into balls. Roll the balls in chocolate sprinkles until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Happy baking!


Super Simple Carrot Soup

March 12, 2010

This post is going to have to be short and sweet. You see, I’m going away for the weekend. Flying away to be exact. To Colorado for a long weekend of skiing with family and friends. I’ve been skiing since I was very little, but my last ski trip (to Vermont) was more than memorable. It involved a family road trip, a lost driver’s license, and three days of skiing with four Floridians (my sisters, step-mom, and dad) – two of which hadn’t ever seen snow before the trip.

I spent a lot of time skiing alone. Which is why I’m so excited to get to Colorado for some great skiing with some even better people.

But you’re here for the food, not my family vacation stories. So…..

Do not, for one second, think that I can’t see the irony in following up a sinfully-rich chocolate tart with a bowl of carrot soup. But people, myself included, seem increasingly concerned with balance, which for me means I can fill your minds with sugar-coma-inducing desserts as long as I intersperse a few vegetables in between posts, right?

I have made this carrot soup for more events than I can even name, most recently for the first course of my extended family Thanksgiving. It’s so easy, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people ask me for the recipe. The carrots give great texture to the soup, and the spices and bacon bring plenty of salty, savory goodness. A few months back, I posted this recipe on my website. And now I’m bringing it to Espresso and Cream. For the ‘Super Easy Carrot Soup’ recipe, click here.

Enjoy your weekend!


Triple Chocolate Tart

March 11, 2010

Can I confess something to you?

I have a serious case of guilt. You see, in my mind blogs are supposed to be magical, fun, creative, and above all – delicious. But after weighing you all down with my last post full of talk about fruit, vegetable, and calorie counts I figured I owed you an apology. Sure, fruits and veggies are very important, but sharing with you something as mundane as a smoothie, and then having the audacity to name it ‘Fruit and Veggie Smoothie’ (really? eeek!) It all makes me want to cringe

So to say I’m sorry, I’m giving you chocolate, more specifically a chocolate tart filled with chocolate ganache and homemade chocolate pudding. And oh my gosh is this thing good. It’s rich, intense, and may possibly have the power to send you into a chocolate coma, but if I’m going to go, death by chocolate tart sounds like a pretty sweet way to do it.

The process looks long, but don’t let that scare you. The whole thing comes together pretty quickly – it took me less than 40 minutes to assemble. Instead of the more expected, crunchy graham cracker crust, I went in the opposite direction with a cakey chocolate shell that yielded a crispy edge and spongy center. Ganache, the second layer, is a thick icing/pastry cream made of cream and chocolate. Once it cools, the texture is thick and fudgy and provides nice contrast to the lighter chocolate pudding layer.

I’m sorry for weighing you down with the practical side of life. Please accept my peace offering of chocolate – three ways. Because I’m more concerned with your taste buds than your hips. :)

Cookie Tart Shell
*1 box devil’s food cake mix
*1 large egg
*1/3 cup vegetable oil
*1/4 cup water

*1 cup heavy cream
*10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
*1/8 tsp. kosher salt (coarse sea salt)

Chocolate Pudding:
adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Wednesday Chef
*1/4 cup cornstarch
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/8 tsp. salt
*1 cup heavy cream
*2 cups 2% milk
*6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
*1 tsp. vanilla extract

*Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 10-inch tart pan with cooking spray. Set aside. (if you don’t have a tart pan, you can use a pie plate)
*With electric mixer, beat together cake mix, egg, oil, and water until mixture forms a dough. Press dough into tart pan. Bake 12-14 minutes, until crust is puffed up. Cool on a wire rack.
*Next, prepare the ganache. Heat the 1 cup cream in saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until cream begins to simmer (A mixture is considered to be ‘simmering’ when a bubble rises to the surface every 1 to 2 seconds but not more.)
*When mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and pour cream on top of the 10 oz. chopped chocolate. Stir mixture until chocolate is melted. Pour the ganache into the tart shell. Sprinkle the top of the ganache with the 1/8 tsp. kosher salt. This is important. With all the chocoalte, a bit of salt helps to bring out the flavors and break up the sweetness every so slightly. Do not skimp on this part. Then, place tart in refrigerator.
*Then, prepare chocolate pudding. In saucepan, combine corn starch, sugar, and salt. Stir together until evenly combined. Slowly add in the 1 cup cream and 2 cups milk, stirring until smooth. Place saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, 15-18 minutes, until mixture is thickened. (During this process, do not let the mixture boil or bubble. It should thicken slowly, without boiling or simmering. The mixture may let off steam, which is normal. If it starts simmering, remove from heat immediately, continuing to stir, then return to heat.)
*After the pudding mixture is thickened, remove from heat and add in the chocolate and vanilla extract. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour the pudding over ganache in tart. Refrigerate 2 hours, until pudding is cooled and ganache is set.

Happy Baking!


*Update: Because I care deeply about each and every one of you, I took it upon myself to have a sliver of this cake for breakfast. I can safely assure you that it’s still good out of the refrigerator the next morning. That’s just the kind of self-sacrificing person I am.
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