Cup Cookies

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So I have a special midweek treat for all of you – a guest post by two aspiring young bakers.  My twin cousins Teddy and Jack made cup cookies (which you can then put milk in, eliminating the need for dunking), and they want to tell you about it.  Enjoy!

From Jack:

We made normal cookies but didn’t cook them.  We used a muffin tin instead of a flat metal thing.We put parchment paper in the muffin tin so we could keep the cookies from wiggling.We put cookie batter on the bottom of the parchment paper then on the sides. After that we put popcorn kernels in tin foil and put it in the center of the cookie.Then we put them in the oven.When we took them out the sides were cooked but the bottom was not.Then we took the tin foil out and put them back in the oven.We took them out and let them cool.When we tasted them the milk in the center drained through the bottom. They were delicious, I’d make them for my children.

From Teddy:

First we got the ingredients: chocolate chips, eggs, salt, vanilla extract, and more stuff. We put the batter in a muffin tin and then we put it in the oven.We put the batter around the rim of the muffin tin and we put tin foil in the middle of the batter. We let it cook over night. We let it cool for an hour. After all that I had one and that work really pade because they were really good!

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Cup Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cream together brown sugar and butter.
  2. Beat in vanilla extract and eggs.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, beating until well combined.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Refrigerate dough overnight for easier use.
  6. Press cookie dough into muffin tins and put aluminum foil in the centers to hold shape.  Bake at 350°F until edges are golden.  Remove aluminum foil and bake until bottom is set.  Allow to cool on wire rack.
  7. Add milk to your cup and enjoy!

 

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Watermelon Sorbet

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I find something oddly therapeutic about cutting fruit.  I think it started when I came back from college the first time and was beyond excited by the prospect of having fruit other than apples and oranges from the dining hall.  So when I went with my dad to the grocery store, we got just about every fruit you can get and I cut it all up and put it in tupperware in the fridge.

Then, later on, I was put in charge of the fruit salad for our Fourth of July party.  I got to pick all the fruit to go in, cut it up into neat little cubes (or spheres for the melon – I still want my own melon baller) and layer it by color in a big glass bowl.

So this weekend, when I decided I wanted to make watermelon sorbet (mostly to use my ice cream maker again), I may have bought a little more watermelon than I needed.  Like a full half of a watermelon.

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Fortunately I love watermelon, but realistically you don’t need to buy quite this much to make the recipe.  A quarter will do just fine.  Otherwise you might end up with a little left over.

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I’m actually eating the smaller bowl for lunch right now while I type this.

Anyways, let’s get started.  Squeeze about a lemon and a half to get 1/4 cup of juice.

 

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Heat the lemon juice, water, and sugar over medium heat in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.  The mixture should turn from opaque to clear.

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Pour the sugar mixture into an airtight container and chill completely.  I left mine in the fridge overnight.  While you’re chilling things, don’t forget to put the freezer bowl for your ice cream maker in the freezer!

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The next morning (or however you’re timing things), cut up your watermelon and remove the seeds.  Blend 3 cups in a blender until smooth.

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Pour it into a bowl with a spout and stir in the chilled sugar mixture.  You can return it to the fridge if you don’t trust it to be quite chilled enough yet.

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When you’re ready to turn it into sorbet, put the freezer bowl attachment on your stand mixer and turn the setting to stir.  Pour in the mixture and allow the mixer to run for about 25 minutes, or until of desired consistency.

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Forgive my action shots of the stand mixer, I still love it.  Spoon the sorbet into an airtight container and store in the freezer for 4 to 6 hours before serving.

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When it’s done, it looks (and tastes!) like sorbet!  It is definitely not as sweet as the sorbet I remember getting at an ice cream shop in town, probably due to the lemon juice, but the flavor is a little more complex, which I liked.

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And, of course, adding jimmies never does any harm.

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Enjoy!

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Watermelon Sorbet

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 cups chopped watermelon, seeds removed

Directions:

  1. Cook lemon juice, sugar, and water over medium heat in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved and liquid is transparent.
  2. Chill completely overnight.
  3. Blend watermelon until smooth.
  4. Combine watermelon and sugar mixture in a bowl with a spout.  Chill again if necessary.
  5.  Set up ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.  Pour mixture into bowl while set to stir and allow to run 25 minutes or until desired consistency.
  6. Freeze in an airtight container for an additional 4-6 hours before serving.

Coconut Macaroon Nests

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Happy Easter!  I know I usually post on Sundays, but with Easter being tomorrow, I figured I’d give you a last minute (and quick!) recipe to make in case you’re scrambling for something.  This is also the last post I get to do from the house I grew up in – my parents are moving out within the week, but I did get to come home for one last holiday with everyone.  So I’m feeling a little sentimental.

The flip side of my parents moving this week is that there really isn’t much left in the house – so I had to actually go to a friend’s to borrow sugar and flour.  Oddly enough we had the rest of the ingredients on hand.  Why we had coconut and sliced almonds but no basics is beyond me.

This is a recipe I adapted from a cookie I tend to make around Christmas for my mom – coconut macaroons.  Then I saw on Pinterest all of these awesome nest cookies using mini Cadbury eggs (my favorite Easter candy) and I decided to combine the two.

First, combine the flour, sugar, and coconut in a bowl.  Baker’s sweetened coconut flakes actually come in a 2 2/3 cup bag, which is strangely convenient.

 

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Then, mix in the sliced almonds, egg whites, and vanilla and almond extracts.  The measuring cups were already packed, so I eyeballed the almonds, but the spoons fortunately were not.

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Then, using your hands (it’s sticky, but easier to shape this way), roll the mixture into balls and press your thumb in the middle to make a nest.  Put the cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes, or until the coconut is golden brown.

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Transfer to a wire rack while still warm (and quickly if, like me, you didn’t happen to grease the cookie sheet) to cool completely.

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Time-saving tip: rather than melt chocolate in a double boiler, it’s just as easy to use those dipping chocolate tubs that you melt in the microwave.  I cheated this week and used this one:

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Put a spoonful of chocolate into the middle of each nest and add three mini eggs.  If you’re OCD like me, make sure each nest has 3 different colors.

I know this is a short post, but I don’t get to spend time with my whole family at once very often, so I’m off to do that!

Enjoy!

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Coconut Macaroon Nests

Ingredients:

  • 2 2/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • melted dark chocolate
  • Cadbury mini eggs

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl.
  2. Add the egg whites, almonds, vanilla extract and almond extract, mixing until sticky.
  3. Shape into balls and press a thumb in the middle to make nests on a greased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown.
  5. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Melt chocolate and put a spoonful into the center of each nest.
  7. Add three Cadbury mini eggs to each nest.

Peanut Butter Samoa Bars

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Spring break was supposed to start Friday.  It was supposed to be a half day, and then I would have all of this coming week off.  However, apparently when you have seven snow days, those week-long-break perks of being a teacher can disappear.  So instead, I have two more days between me and an extended long weekend with my parents.  Rather than wallow in these extra two days, I used my last weekend before Lent is over to bake for one more person at my school, that happens to be a celiac (can’t eat gluten).

I had told her that I would get her some gluten free girl scout cookies from a friend, but apparently they are in extremely high demand and I couldn’t finagle a box in time.  Those were chocolate chip, though, and we all know that caramel delites (samoas?) are the best of the girl scout cookies.  So instead, I decided to do a girl-scout-cookie-themed gluten-free dessert for her.

Now, I know I have quite a few gluten-free relatives out there reading this, so this is for all of you as well.  I found them on buzzfeed, where they also had a whole bunch of other options to choose from.  Definitely worth a look.

First, beat the eggs in a stand mixer until they triple in size.  This step almost turned me off to the recipe, because I’m always afraid of messing up with eggs, but then I remembered my trusty yellow stand mixer and gave it a whirl.

 

 

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Does that look triple? I think its close.  It was 10 minutes.  During the last minute, melt the peanut butter in the microwave for a minute.  Give it a stir.

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While the mixer is still going, slowly pour the peanut butter into the bowl until it is well combined with the eggs.

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Pour the mixture into a greased 8×8 pan.  I’ve never worked anything of this consistency, so I don’t know if I did it right, but it was cool and spongy in texture.

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Sprinkle 3/4 cup of chopped chocolate chips over the top of the mixture.  I don’t really know why the chips had to be chopped, other than to make them melt a little better, but I’m not one to break the rules.

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Set that aside while you make the caramel sauce.  I looked in three different stores for the 14 oz caramel bag that the recipe called for, but I couldn’t find it.  I don’t know who other than me still buys caramels in bulk, but apparently enough people to sell out stores.  So instead, I got the Werther’s chewy ones and just got two 5.5 oz bags that looked like this:

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Put the butter, unwrapped caramels, and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan.  Melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.

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Now, you’re only going to use one cup of the caramel, and pour it over the chocolate layer.

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That means you’ll have LOTS of extra caramel sauce to use in other goodies.  I’m thinking I’ll have to make ice cream again sometime soon…

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Anyways, sprinkle the coconut over the caramel.  Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out without any kind of crumb from the egg layer.  I may have overcooked at this point because the caramel tricked me into thinking the center wasn’t done, but you should expect the caramel on your toothpick.

 

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Allow the bars to cool completely in the pan before cutting.  Transfer to a platter.

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Melt the remaining 1/4 cup chopped chocolate chips in the microwave.  Whenever I melt chocolate, I go by the microwave-for-15-minutes-at-a-time-at-half-power-and-stir method.  It works.

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Rather than pull out a pastry bag, I just spooned the chocolate into a ziploc bag and cut the corner off.  Drizzle over the bars to add a little more chocolate to the mix.

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I’m not really well-versed in gluten free desserts (other than flourless chocolate cake, but that’s a good dessert in its own right), but these look pretty good to me.

Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Samoa Bars

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup chopped chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 14 oz bag (or 2 5.5 oz bags) caramels, unwrapped
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 14 0z can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Ingredients:

  1. Beat eggs in stand mixer until they triple in size, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Melt peanut butter in microwave for 1 minute and stir.  Pour into egg mixture slowly while beating until combined.
  3. Pour batter into greased 8×8 pan.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped chocolate chips on top.  Set aside.
  4. To make the caramel sauce, combine sweetened condensed milk, caramels, and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.  Melt until smooth, stirring constantly.
  5. Pour one cup of the caramel over the chocolate layer.  Save the rest for something else.
  6. Sprinkle coconut on top of caramel.  Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.  Melt the remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips and drizzle over bars.

Nightcap Tart

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So today is the first day of the year where I’ve been able to convince myself it’s nice enough to sit on my balcony to type my blog.  Granted, I’m wearing a fleece and cradling a cup of hot tea, but I am outside!

Anyways, this weekend I had a group of teachers from my high school over for a potluck dinner.  Now, I’m really bad at potlucks.  Not because I don’t know what to make, but because I want to make everything.  It’s very hard for me to pass up the opportunity to cook things for other people, and by the nature of a potluck, I have to relinquish that control.  I settled on making the main course (Jack Daniel’s bacon mac and cheese) and, of course, dessert.

The theme I was going for was “grown-up comfort foods”, so naturally I turned to my Boozy Baker cookbook for an idea.  Everything in this book looks delicious – however, most of it requires more random specialty liquors than I was feeling like purchasing.  Then I found the nightcap tart, where all I would need was Kahlua, and I was sold.

The tart comes out the consistency of a flourless chocolate cake, but better because it also has a buttery chocolate crust.  And you can take my word for it this week that it was delicious – I used my Sunday Lent dispensation (it’s a thing, I promise) on Saturday so that I could try a piece.  One thing my mom taught me about Lent rules was that between Saturday and Sunday, you can choose which day you’re going to pretend is Sunday.

The first step is making the crust.  For the crust, use the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers.  I’m not sure you’re allowed to claim your own product is famous, but Nabisco went for it.

 

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This recipe, more than any other I’ve tried recently, has convinced me of the importance of a food processor.  If you have one, use it.  I don’t, so I pulsed the wafers in my blender, which is a pretty heavy-duty little machine.   The problem with using the blender, though, is that the crumbs get all pushed to the sides, and then the blades are spinning without hitting anything, which is counterproductive and involves a lot of stopping and shaking the carafe to get the pieces back in the middle.

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Next, add the melted butter and salt to your (hopefully) food processor, or blender like me, and pulse until the crumbs are moist.

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See how you can see the blade in that last photo?  That’s what I’m talking about when I say the blender isn’t quite as good at this job.

Anyways, regardless of your method, you should still be able to press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9 inch circular pan.  Boozy Baker calls for a tart pan with a removable bottom, but once again, my specialty bakeware is lacking, so I just used a pie plate and it came out fine.

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In a separate large bowl, place the chopped chocolate.  The finer you shop the chocolate, the more quickly making the filling will go, but I didn’t have the patience to make it any smaller than this:

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Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat until it begins to steam and you see small bubbles around the outside.  Don’t let it boil!

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Pour the heavy cream into the bowl with the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts and is smooth.  If you coarsely chopped the chocolate, this takes a good long while and a possible 10 second stint in the microwave on 50% power.

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Stir in the sugar until well combined.

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In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and Kahlua.

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Add the egg mixture, little by little, into the chocolate mixture, whisking after each addition until smooth.

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Pour the filling over the crust and smooth the top.  Put the pie (or tart) pan on a baking sheet before baking for 30 minutes at 350°F.  The edges should puff up and the middle should be just set before you take it out.

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Transfer the pan to a wire rack for the tart to cool completely.  Store it in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to serve.  Remember to allow it to come to room temperature first before serving – it’s better that way.

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And if you don’t believe me, look at all of these happy teachers enjoying a piece after a deliciously cheese-filled meal!

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Enjoy!

 

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Nightcap Tart

 Ingredients:

  • 32 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua

Directions

  1. Pulse cookies in food processor until finely ground.
  2. Add butter and salt and pulse until moist.
  3. Press crumbs into bottom of 9 inch pie or tart pan.
  4. Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl.
  5. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat until steaming and small bubbles form around the outside.
  6. Pour cream over chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  7. Stir in sugar.
  8. Whisk eggs and Kahlua together in a separate bowl.
  9. Add, a little at a time, to the chocolate mixture, and whisk until smooth.
  10. Pour filling over crust and bake for 30 minutes at 350°F until edges puff up and middle is just set.
  11. Cool completely on wire rack before storing in refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving.