Sunday, October 18, 2015

S'mores Cookies

With fall rolling along and a new set of people to try to impress with my baking skills (my new front end engineering classmates), it was time to head back in the kitchen and bake like crazy. Thanks to a brief break from our hectic coding schedules on Thursday, I was able to generate insane amounts of sugar to compliment all the caffeine we were ingesting to help us all work on our tachycardias.

Would my decision to forgo the traditional autumnal pumpkin spice pay off, or would my new computer savvy classmates call me a n00b and write me off?

S'mores Cookies
Adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker
Servings: 28-36 cookies
Time: 5 hours (inactive for 4)
So much goodness 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour,
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 5-6 full sized)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 heaping cup miniature marshmallows
1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips
Additional milk chocolate and marshmallows for topping (optional)

Have you ever thought to yourself "There's now possible way cookie dough could be any better."? Well you were wrong.
  1. Whisk the flour, graham cracker, baking soda, and salt together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and both sugars together in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes at medium speed). Be sure to scrape down the sides halfway through.
  3. Add in the egg, honey, and vanilla until well combined. 
  4. Mix the dry ingredients in with the butter until the cookie dough forms. 
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows until evenly distributed. 
  6. Roll the dough into a large ball, wrap tightly in saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours. 
  7. Feel like a kid on Christmas eve as you wait for those four hours to pass.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325 F. 
  9. Roll up the dough into ~ 1-2 tbsp sized balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper about one inch apart. Be careful not to have too much marshmallow per ball as this can lead to some weird looking cookies once the marshmallows melt.
  10. Bake for 14-18 minutes until the edges start to set and the cookies brown.
  11. Keep on the baking sheet and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer them to the wire racks directly to finish cooling.
  12. If you wish, top with melted milk chocolate chips (microwave for 15-30 seconds at a time until smooth) and a marshmallow. Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
I highly recommend the super s'mores variety for minimal extra effort.
There was so much to love about these cookies, which I will place firmly toward the top of all cookies that I have made. The cookie base itself is a hybrid of s'mores and the classic Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe with graham cracker crumbs taking the place of some of the flour and marshmallows fighting the chocolate chips for interior real estate. Speaking of the marshmallows, aside from adding some amazing gooeyness, they also caramelized nicely in the oven leading to additional unexpected deliciousness (but do be careful not to have too many marshmallows per cookie or they will look like a mess). While I made two versions, one with additional s'mores topping and one without, I would definitely recommend really hammering home all the campfire appeal with the additional toppings. Without much extra effort from making standard chocolate chip cookies (I know melting chocolate in the microwave seems pretty taxing), you can produce a treat that holds its own against just about anything else and brings you back to your childhood.

Hiding the non chocolate covered ones on the bottom.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Search for the Perfect Biscuit: Cheddar Green Onion Buttermilk

Living in the South means constantly being in search of the holy grail of biscuits. While I was hoping to run an experiment similar to the Oreo frosting permutations, I was seemingly at a loss for what aspect to vary in a biscuit. Everyone knows buttermilk biscuits are the best, so it would be fruitless to test with and without it. In the end, I decided on a much more subtle yet important factor in the make-up of a biscuit- the flour.

Would normal, run-of-the-mill all-purpose flour prove to be the most versatile and best or would the lighter White Lilly flour prove advantageous? Or would any of it matter so long as I ended up with a belly full of biscuits?

Cheddar Green Onion Buttermilk Biscuits
Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
Servings: 10-12 biscuits
Time: 45 minutes
The only prep pic I took. Note the light White Lily!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold buttermilk, plus more for topping
1 egg
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, chopped into small cubes
3 tbsp green onion, diced
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
Coarse sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt together in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together.
  4. In yet another bowl, toss the cheese and green onions together. 
  5. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.
  6. Stir in the cheese mixture.
  7. Create a well in the center of the flour and pour in the buttermilk mix.
  8. Toss the flour mixture together until the dough comes together. 
  9. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes then form a 1 1/2 inch thick circle. 
  10. Cut the dough into circles then put place them onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. 
  11. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  12. Forget to take any pictures of the actual dough. 
The White Lily Biscuits. Note: all the extra burnt cheddar around the edges was already in my belly.
The difference between the two was readily apparent from the dough itself. The White Lilly produced a far more moist dough that had to have extra flour added just to be manageable, while the all-purpose flour was almost too dry. Since this wasn't a strictly controlled experiment and I was looking for a workable dough, the end results were pretty similar.
The all-purpose flour biscuits that were more porous thanks to having to add more buttermilk.
Both biscuits had great cheddar flavor (especially the burnt bits that I removed to at least make my pictures semi pretty) balanced nicely by the green onion (fyi: the original recipe calls for chives). The biscuits were light and bouncy and held surprisingly well as the week went along, but they did not approach the greatest biscuit ever. These were ideally suited for dipping into soup or gravy, but, on their own, they were a little lacking likely from their height deficiency (a problem I am all too familiar with). While this mini-experiment may not have produced any real results, it did at least set me on the path for my next biscuit challenge- varying baking soda/baking powder to achieve the best results for either standard biscuits or breakfast sandwiches. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Oreos and the Grand Rheological Study of Frosting

Recently, after talking to a friend, I was left wondering what I would sell if I could market any of my crafty confectionary crafts. As difficult as this may be to believe, my favorite treats to bake are Whoopie Pies and not Cupcakes, so I started pondering just how viable of a product they could be. While I think the flavor is top notch (especially the coffee version), they do have a tragic flaw in that the filling is far too soft for longevity and transport outside of being nearly constantly refrigerated. Clearly, the best way to approach this would be a comprehensive scientific experiment comparing how various filling respond to stress, shear, and warmth. Or I could just make two different ones, eat a bunch of cookies, and let my stomach brain decide.

Chocolate, sugar, and butter. Yes please.
Adapted from Flour owner Joanne Chang
Servings: ~ 20-25 oreos
Time: 4 hours (inactive for 3)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
Fluffy buttercream
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
Pinch of salt

Your log of dough presented without further comment...
  1. Whisk the butter and sugar together in a medium bowl until combined. Then whisk in the vanilla and melted chocolate. Stir in the egg until fully incorporated.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mix with a wooden spoon until a thick dough forms. 
  4. Realize you forgot to add half of the butter, hastily add the rest, and pray to God it doesn't affect the final results, but vow to not let your readers make the same mistake by actually writing how many sticks it is...
  5. Cover and set aside for 1 hour at room temp until firm.
  6. Put the dough on a long sheet of parchment paper and roll it out into a rough log approximately 10" long by 2.5" in diameter. 
  7. Laugh at what your rough log looks like because you are an adult.
  8. Put the log at one of the edges of the parchment paper. Then roll it up and into a nicer log fully covered by the parchment paper.
  9. Refrigerate for 2 hours. You may need to re-roll it every 15-20 minutes or so to maintain its shape. I highly recommend you just be lazy and roll the dice. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  11. Cut the dough into 1/4" thick pieces. Then place the slices on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and space them ~ 1" apart.
  12. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Take them out when they are firm when touched in the center. Let them cool on the cookie sheets so they firm up slightly more. Be careful not to overbake them. 
  13. Make the filling by beating the butter on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 30 seconds. Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the milk and salt until you have a somewhat thick yet spreadable mixture.
  14. Put ~ 1 tbsp of filling in between two fairly consistently shaped cookies and make your cookie sandwich.
  15. Prepare the other filling 
They look so lonely without the cream filling.
Let's start with discussion of the cookies. These were super tasty Oreo substitutes that were definitely worth the effort. I did find them to be a little salty, but that could be a major plus for those who are super into the whole salty-sweet combo (or you could drop the salt to 1/2 tsp if that's not your thing). The chocolate really came through, and the resulting taste was a beautiful mix of brownie and traditional Oreo. Structurally, the cookies highly resembled their Oreo counterparts, so be careful as they may be somewhat brittle if you try to break them or cut them up. The accompanying crunch was just begging to be counterbalanced by delicious creamy filling, and fortunately, we had two options.

Oreo Filling
Also the world's most delicious caulk.
From King Arthur Flour
Servings: just barely enough
Time: 5 minutes

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cold water, or enough to bring the filling together

  1. Beat together the sugar, shortening, salt, and vanilla until you have large dry crumbs. 
  2. Add the water and beat until stiff but spreadable. 
  3. This is best used by first rolling into a ball and then smushing between two cookies. 
Traditional Oreo filling that is resistive to the elements

The much fluffier and sweeter buttercream counterpart
Each filling presented its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The buttercream filling from Flour was by far the sweeter and tastier of the two, which worked wonders with the aforementioned salty cookie. However, it was still like any other buttercream and would likely not respond to warmth as well, although it did handle being out in room temp for an entire work day pretty well (and much better than my usual cream cheese based ones would have). On the other hand, the more traditional, shortening based Oreo filling was an almost exact rendering of the product we all know and love. It was essentially a brick wall when it came to heat and force to deliver the best prospects for future sales. Unfortunately, it was the clear loser in the taste department (although still quite good) as the buttercreams disappeared far more rapidly. With some tinkering, though, I think this could be exactly what I was looking for. Perhaps some hybridization of the two would provide exactly the balance I seek, or maybe some additional flavors being incorporated could sweeten things up just the right amount. Despite some remaining questions, this was a rare experiment where everyone came out a winner.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Chicken Gyros

Every year, Lay's subjects our overly curious and gluttonous selves to some of the weirdest combinations in the history of chips with their "Do us a Flavor" contest. Despite the fact I should've known better after last year's winner, the disaster known as "Wasabi Ginger", I still found myself compelled to run the flavor gamut this year with Reuben (tastes like vienna sausage but works surprisingly well with beer), Southern Biscuits and Gravy (tastes surprisingly like gravy and is my favorite of the bunch), and Gyro (imagine dusting a chip with the gyro seasoning and some tzatziki leading to mostly positive results).

Following my brave trek to questionable Flavortown, I found myself in charge of making dinner for the evening. Utterly devoid of the ability to think for myself due to "chip belly", I drew inspiration from my day's adventure and decided to make some Gyros. Given a lack of ground lamb and the ever present and judging wedding diet, I decided the healthier chicken variety was the way to go.

Would Lay's evil finally lead to something good, or would "chip belly" be my undoing?

Chicken Gyros
Adapted from All Recipes
Servings: 4 Gyros
Time:  2 hours (inactive for ~ 90)

16 oz Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled chopped
1 1/2 tsp dill weed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

I <3 you, tzatziki
The Rest
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried oregano
Pinch of red chili flakes
Salt and pepper
4 Pita rounds
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 red onion, sliced
lettuce, shredded

  1. Get your greatest inspiration of the day from potato chips and question your life.
  2. Prep the tzatziki by blending the Greek yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate until ready.
  3. Make your chicken marinade by whisking the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl. Cover the chicken with the marinade in a large ziploc bag or bowl, tossing to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Preheat your oven's broiler and position the top rack ~ 6 inches from it.
  5. Broil the chicken (removing excess marinade first) on a baking sheet lined with foil for 2-4 minutes per side until it is lightly browned and cooked throughout. 
  6. Heat up your pitas rounds for ~1-2 minutes per side in a pan over medium heat until warmed throughout. 
  7. Top your pita with chicken, tomato, cucumber, red onion, lettuce, and glorious tzatziki.
The amount of tzatziki was tripled following the picture.
These chicken gyros were exactly what I was looking for and far exceeded the day's earlier potato chip witchcraft. Surrounding meat, cheese, and fresh, crunchy veggies with warm pita bread is one of the greatest ways to dine, but the true star was the creamy, smooth, cucumber-packed tzatzki sauce that I will now attempt to put into tiny packets that I carry with me to put on everything.

Robin's preferred method of eating a gyro was far more efficient but far less appetizing. It looks like it's talking to me with a full mouth.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sliders

My first introduction to butter chicken came during one of my many pre-move visits to Charleston. While looking for proper sustenance, I was shocked to find that (thanks to her busy doctory schedule) the only safely edible thing Robin had in her fridge was some butter chicken that her mother had made for her. Fortunately for me and my tummy, my future mother-in-law is quite adept at making delicious Indian food, so I was in an amazing treat.

Following a long week of work, I wanted to welcome Robin back with this favorite comfort food of hers while giving it an American (and lazy) twist.

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken Sliders
Adapted from Kiwi and Bean
Time: 5-7 Hours
Servings: Happy hour amounts of sliders
So many spices

3-4 tbsp butter (pick how "healthy")
1 onion, diced
5 cloves glarlic, crushed
2 thumb-size pieces of ginger, peeled and grated
3 tsp garam masala
2 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp cayenne
15 oz coconut milk
5 oz tomato paste
Not pictured: mango chutney
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
1- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp cornstarch
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Sriracha to taste
Red Cabbage, shredded
Jalapenos or other spicy pepper, sliced
Mango Chutney
Cucumbers, sliced
Slider Buns

The heart of butter chicken

  1. Get really bored while your fiance is working out of town.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until tender and translucent. Stir in the garlic and ginger. Cook until the onion are browned, stirring frequently to keep from burning. 
  3. Coat with the garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. 
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and tomato paste. Mix until smooth. Then bring to a boil. 
  5. Transfer the sauce to a slow cooker along with the chicken.
  6. Cook over low for ~ 5 hours until the chicken is very tender.
  7. Remove the chicken and shred. 
  8. Whisk the cornstarch into the sauce in the slow cooker, ramp the heat to high and let thicken. 
  9. Return the chicken to the sauce and coat well. Add salt, pepper, and sriracha to taste. You'll likely need a lot of salt.
  10. Assemble your sliders with chicken, red cabbage, jalapeno, cilantro, mango, chutney, and cucumbers on preferably toasted buns.
  11. Be amazed at how much more amazing they taste the second day.
One day I'll use the book Robin gave me on food photography, so you can stop enjoying shadows in pics.
The veggie toppings provided wonderful freshness, flavor, and crispiness reminiscent of a banh mi, while the mango chutney added a nice hint of sweetness to keep the fire at bay. As with most slow-cooker made deliciousness, the results were even more amazing the second day once the flavors had a little more time to meld together. To make these even more awesome, I would either try to incorporate some yogurt into the mix or try to emulate a nice banh mi a little more by using char-grilled chicken instead of shredded (thus pretty much nullifying the entire recipe and its inherent laziness!). Despite some very minor room for improvement, these provided many days of magnificently tasty and spicy leftovers that I never found myself tiring of. More importantly, they seemed to satisfy and not offend Robin's love of butter chicken.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Engagement Mini Cherry Pies

Life has many milestones. From graduating college and grad school to baking my first cupcake to buying a dog, I had hit most of the important ones. But the biggie still remained. Following a year dating in college, the better part of a decade remaining really close friends, over two years of being back together, and moving halfway across the country to start a life together, it was time to make things with Robin super official.

After 10 years, these thought bubbles still hold (fortunately, my predilection for Lincoln beards does not).
With Robin's family medicine residency now over and her about to begin her new job as a full fledged smarty-pants Doctor, the timing seemed perfect to embark on the next phase of our relationship. Over the last ten years, I've been amazed watching her grow from a Freshman in college to the accomplished woman she is today, and I couldn't be prouder. In order to properly kick-off this momentous occasion in our lives, I decided to reimagine our first time baking together during our wonderfully awkward flirty but not together period circa 2011.

Would my cupcakey ode to our Cherry Pie of long ago be enough to convince her to spend the rest of her life with me, or did I totally misread this whole living together thing?

Engagement Mini Cherry Pies
Adapted from Table Spoon and Food Network
Delicious, if not overly romantic filling.
Servings: 12 mini pies
Time: 90 minutes

4 Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts
2 cups tart cherries
2 1/2 cups dark sweet cherries
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch
3/8 tsp-1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1 egg, whisked

I was going to prove myself to be a worthy homemaker, if it was the last thing I did!
  1. Spend ten years being best friends with the awesomest, smartest girl around.
  2. Realize that savings accounts are for losers, and buy a ring.
  3. Freak out about how you're going to propose and almost ruin it until your sister calms you down and talks sense into you.
  4. Look back on your fond memories of your first time baking together with your love.
  5. Wait for her to go to work then try to make as little mess as possible in the kitchen for once.
  6. Heat the cherries in a covered medium saucepan over medium-low heat until a fair amount of juice forms (about 5 minutes).
  7. Sift the cornstarch and sugar together. Then stir it into the mix until well incorporated. 
  8. Mix in the almond extract and continue cooking until it thickens, stirring frequently.
  9. If it gets too thick, add small amounts of water. If it won't thicken up, add small amounts of cornstarch.
  10. Let cool to room temp (or hide in the back of the fridge until she goes to sleep).
  11. Wake up super early, but, whatever. It's not like you really slept much anyway.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  13. Roll out the pie crusts and cut out twelve 4" discs. Press the discs into greased muffin tins so that they are just sticking out.
  14. Fill each almost completely with your cherry mixture. 
  15. Cut 6 thin strips to from the lattice of each pie and weave delicately. Press the ends of the lattice into the main crust to bring the two together. Marvel at how truly bad your lattice making abilities are, and make a heart-shaped one just in case.
  16. Brush the tops with your egg mix.
  17. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. (Note: I found it quite helpful to pace around the kitchen while waiting. By 8 am, I had already logged over a mile in my kitchen alone.)
  18. Somehow manage not to trip over the stairs or your dog and successfully carry the secretly purchased breakfast tray and its contents to your sleeping future Mrs..
  19. Live happily ever after.
A Pictorial Proposal History

I had some painstaking choices to make. This proposal needed perfection and my lattice skills were not on point.
Oh no, the cappuccino foam was super flat! Proposal ruined!!!!
Luckily, I had two secret weapons in the book and the ring.
At last, a use for the My Mess Their Kitchen Game!
I'm sure Robin greatly appreciated not having to get out of bed for any of this.
Of course she said yes after those delicious pies. 
Maggie was especially thrilled that her parents were finally getting married (or maybe that there was food in the bed. We'll never know.)
My breakfast in bed proposal was a resounding success that will surely be spoken of for generations to come (I'm currently preparing the version I will tell as a crazy old man in front of a fireplace surrounded by our grandchildren during the holidays). The mini pies were just as delicious and even more whimsical than the first time we made the full-sized version, but, most importantly, she said yes! I drove myself crazy trying to figure out how to propose, but really all I had to do was pick something decidedly us. Unfortunately, proposing early in bed while living on the East Coast, meant we had to wait a while before we could spread the wonderful news, but we had some truly delightful cherry pies to keep us busy until then. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Garven Good-Bye: Buckeye Cupcakes

Just as I finally began to adjust to my post-Kevin existence and started getting into my friend groove out in Charleston, stupid life had to step in. Robin's and my gender-reversed personality doppelgänger couple Chad (Robin's co-chief and all around medical badass) and Bridget (the real life equivalent of Leslie Knope) decided they needed to pull a Lebron and return to their homeland of Ohio. While this may make it more difficult for our shared future goal of having our hypothetical children Charlie and Charlotte marry one another to gloriously unify these two great families, Robin and I were able to finally come to terms with their leaving after much sobbing and boxed wine.  I wasn't going to allow them to make the long trek home on empty stomachs, so I got to work in the kitchen and whipped up some Funfetti Explosion Cookies and a cupcakey twist on their favorite hometown confection- the Buckeye.

Our hypothetical future grandkids really needs to hope Chad's tall genes are dominant.
Buckeye Cupcakes
Adapted from, the Brown Eyed Baker, and more All Recipes
Servings: 24 cupcakes
Time: 120 minutes

A giant buckeye ball
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp shortening

1 batch chocolate cupcake batter found here (sans the Reese's)
1 batch peanut butter frosting also found here

My next great buckeye inspiration will just be dipping buckets in a giant vat of chocolate pudding.
  1. Make a gazillion buckeyes (or 50). Mix the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar together in a large bowl by hand until a smooth yet firm dough forms. Shape into ~1-2 tsp balls, and refrigerate while you make the chocolate.
  2. Melt the shortening and chocolate chips together in a double boiler, stirring until smooth.
  3. Use a toothpick to dip the balls into the melted chocolate. Then place the dipped balls onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until set.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Get lazy and tired of typing up the same chocolate cupcake recipe again, so make your readers do all the work. Make the chocolate cupcake batter. Fill lined muffin tins slightly less than 2/3 full with batter. Add a buckeye to each. Bake for 13-16 minutes until the toothpick test comes back clean.
  6. Mix the peanut butter frosting together. Top each cupcake with frosting and an additional buckeye.
  7. Hope this convinces your friends to return to Charleston soon.
I heard you liked buckeyes, so I put a buckeye inside of your buckeye.
This cupcake version of Inception was the reason milk was invented. My go to chocolate cupcake was solid as always (although oddly a little dry, which is weird considering all the tears that fell into the batter), and the peanut butter frosting was salty smooth decadence redefined. But, as expected, the buckeyes were the highlight burning brightest in this sugar bomb explosion. Having finally answered the question of what would happen if you supersaturated Reese's with powdered sugar, the buckeyes could make anyone want to move to Midwest even despite those crazy winters.

While we are sad to see them go, Robin and I would like to raise a tall glass of milk and wish Chad and Bridget the best of luck bringing their unique brand of awesome back to their roots.

My next big undertaking will be creating a shrink ray so I can run through a maze of buckeyes (and eat my way out).

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Funfetti Explosion Cookies

June has been a pretty quiet month for the blog, but not for lack of working on it. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for a big, fun announcement months in the making! Meanwhile, I decided to get back to work in the kitchen and enjoy a stormy Sunday baking. First up, I needed to feed my crippling sprinkle addiction (see Pop Tart Cake and Funfetti Waffles) while attempting to recreate the magical childhood sugar rush that was DunkAroos.

Funfetti Explosion Cookies
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction and Fresh April Flours
Servings: 24 cookies
Time: 4 hours (inactive for 3)

The most important ingredient in the world
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, room temp
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sprinkles

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups Funfetti Cake Mix
6 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

  1. Cream the butter and and sugar together in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Mix in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cornstarch and salt together. 
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mix in 3 batches. The batter will take some mixing before it forms a cohesive dough.
  5. Stir in sprinkles and look at all the pretty colors.
  6. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 
  7. Watch tons of Netflix while you wait until you feel thoroughly judged by all the "Are you still watching?" questions.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  9. Roll dough into ~ 1 1/2 tbsp balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges start to firm up and brown slightly. Let cool on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to finish cooling.
  11. Turn your attention to the ever important task of making frosting. Smooth the cream cheese in your stand mixer still fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the cake mix and milk in two batches until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Then add the powdered sugar in two batches until fully incorporated. 
  12. Frost the cookies and enjoy.
They're beautiful!
The star of this show was definitely the wonderfully colorful cookies. Sugar cookies can get a bad rap for being kind of boring, but there was nothing mundane about these soft, chewy delights. Chilling was key to produce beautiful cookies that did not spread into horrible mutantations, and they were definitely worth the wait. While the cookies were everything I hoped for, the frosting did not quite reach DunkAroo levels of amazing. The frosting has a great velvety smoothness thanks to the cream cheese, but the taste wasn't quite what I expected. There is an odd hint of pudding thanks to funfetti cake mix having pudding in it that distracted from the deliciousness. Next time, I think adding sprinkles to yellow cake mix would be a better way to go. Despite this shortcoming, I still found myself eating the frosting straight from the bowl (I mean it's sugar and cake, so even when it's not at its best, it can't be all that bad) and had to restrain myself from eating more cookies to make room for my second baked dish of the day- super secretive cupcakes (I imagine all readers now have unhealthy levels of anticipation and intrigue following all these cryptic remarks).

One day I will succeed and also be this extreme!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Jalapeño Parmesan Sriracha Biscuits

Following the unprecedented run of deliciousness seen from Hummingbird Cupcakes to 3 kinds of Wookie Pies, the blog took a much needed vacation to Hawaii to show off the fantastic swimsuit bod afforded by the aforementioned dessert successes. Now, with a week to recover from too much sun, beautiful sights, and piña coladas, it was time to ease back into the kitchen while working on the more savory side of things with some spicy breakfast biscuits.

Jalapeño Parmesan Sriracha Biscuits
Adapted from All Recipes
Servings: 8-10 biscuits
Time: 30 minutes
By far the classiest thing we've used our wine glasses for

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup milk
1/4-1/2 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded (but you could use cheddar)
1-2 generous squirts of sriracha
Honey butter

At this point, I was already ridiculously excited.
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Cut the shortening in until the mix resembles coarse meal. 
  4. Stir in the milk gradually until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and a workable dough forms. You can add excess flour 1 tbsp at a time if you overdo it on the milk.
  5. Stir in the jalapeños, cheese, and Sriracha.
  6. Knead the dough ~10 times (don't overhandle it) on a lightly floured surface.
  7. Roll or pat the dough out to about 1/2" to 1" thick. Cut with a large cutter or glass dipped in flour.
  8. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake for 13-15 minutes until the edges start to brown.
  9. Brush with honey butter then let cool.
Every morning should start like this (and by morning I mean afternoon, because holiday)
These biscuits were everything I was hoping for to kick off my lazy Memorial Day. The jalapeño and Sriracha brought great spice and flavor that went marvelously with our leftover BBQ, while the cheese and honey butter made every bite melt in your mouth smooth. These biscuits had fantastic crispy tops surrounding fluffy perfect insides. My only regret was having to use parmesan instead of cheddar since our fridge was sadly lacking, but it was a small sacrifice to make for not having to change out of my pajama pants and leave the house. Thanks to the success of my first biscuit attempt, I would love to experiment more with culinary variables like butter and buttermilk (really anything with butter in it) in my never-ending quest to build the perfect breakfast.

Delicious BBQ sold separately (courtesy of Smoky Oak Taproom)