Tuesday, February 22, 2011

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

Every time I made chocolate chip cookies, they would come out differently.  Most of the time they would be flat and a little more crunchy than I prefer them to be.  I want my chocolate chip cookies to be soft and fluffy on the inside and maybe a little crunchy at the edges.  But I never got that.  I don't know what it is about this recipe, but it is absolutely perfect in my eyes.  They are everything I want a chocolate chip cookie to be!  Try them and let me know what you think!

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
recipe from AR
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (just use the powder, don't actually make the pudding)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside. 

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.  Makes approx. 3 dozen cookies.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Semi-Homemade Donuts

Me being the lovely, amazing wife that I am... I decided to get up early this morning and make donuts for my husband before he had to go to work.  These donuts are only semi-homemade, I guess you could say, because if I had to get up any earlier to make them... well, it would just not be good.  I don't function very well at early hours of the day.  So these were perfect, and tasted pretty good too!  And my husband had bought a donut cutter a few weeks back, I felt like I needed to put it to use!

  • 1 roll (or however many rolls you want) biscuits; I used Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
Heat oil in a large pot with high sides over medium-high heat until temperature is at 350°F. Oil should be 1- to 1 1/2 inches deep.  Open biscuits and gently pat them down to even them out.  Cut out center using a donut cutter.  You can fry the centers up as donut holes.  Or if you want to fill your donut later, just leave them as is.

Add half of the doughnuts and half of the doughnut holes and fry until the bottoms turn golden brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes for small donuts and 2 to 2 1/2 minutes for large donuts.  Using chopsticks or a butter knife, turn the doughnuts and holes and fry for until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Transfer doughnuts to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to cool slightly, 1 to 2 minutes before dipping in glaze. Serve warm.

Chocolate Glaze Topping
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
 Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted.  Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate and whisk until melted.  Turn off heat, add powdered sugar, and whisk vigorously until smooth.  Dip donuts into glaze immediately and let cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes so it will set (if you can wait that long... umm... I don't think waiting is necessary! ;)

Vanilla Pastry Cream (for Boston Cream Donuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups  milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp. heavy cream
Place milk in a medium-sized saucepan and set over med-heat; heat the milk until bubbles just start to form around the edges.  Meanwhile, place the sugar, flour, and salt into a small bowl; stir together to combine. Place the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, whisk until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to egg yolks and continue to whisk until thick and pasty.

Remove the milk from the heat and gradually add to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Return the mixture to the saucepan, place over medium heat.  Bring to the boil, whisking constantly, about 3 minutes.  Boil, whisking constantly, for 10 seconds, remove immediately from heat.  Add the vanilla extract and whisk until well combined.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Let cool and then refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to assemble Boston Cream Donuts, using a hand mixer, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Remove vanilla pastry cream from fridge and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream.  Put it into a pastry bag and, using a bismark tip, poke a hole in the side of the donut to the center and gently fill.  Then dip into chocolate glaze.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Raspberry Filled Cupcakes

This is my first time doing filled cupcakes and it was so much fun!  I love the little surprise factor you get when you take that bite out of the cupcake.  Now I'm all excited and want to make more... marshmallow cream filled chocolate cupcakes?  White chocolate ganache filled vanilla cupcakes?  Snickers filled cupcakes?  Cookie dough filled cupcakes?  Cookies and cream cupcakes?  Things might start gettin' a little crazy around here!

I thought this was a fun cupcake for Valentine's day.  And I even made little hearts and 'I <3 U' out of melted white chocolate.  I think it added a nice touch.  :)  What are you making your special someone for Valentine's Day?

The recipe below is for a layer cake and makes two 9-inch round cakes.  But can easily be used for cupcakes.  Yields roughly 20 cupcakes.

Fluffy Yellow Cake
recipe from Cooks Illustrated
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1.   Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Grease the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and knock out the excess.  Or, if making cupcakes, line with cupcake liners. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1½ cups sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

2. In a clean, large bowl, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. While still beating, gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 1 to 2 minutes (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist).

3. Take the bowl with the flour mixture, and with the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Using a rubber spatula, stir ⅓ of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (or cupcake liners.. filling about 2/3 full).  Lightly tap the pans against the counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 19-21 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen the cakes from the sides of the pan with a small knife, then invert onto a greased wire rack and peel off the parchment. Invert the cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1½ hours.  Or, with cupcakes, remove from cupcake pan and place on wire rack to cool.

Raspberry Filling
  • 1 jar of raspberry preserves
Using a bismark tip and pastry bag, insert the tip almost all the way through to the bottom of the cupcake and as you pull the tip out squeeze.

I used a simple buttercream frosting for this cupcake, but you can use whatever frosting suits your taste:)

I made cute little hearts and things using white chocolate.. have some fun decorating your cupcakes!!
And who doesn't love a little surprise inside their cupcakes? 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Baked Potato Soup

Baked potato soup is probably one of my favorite soups, right next to broccoli cheddar soup and wild rice soup.  I've never actually made baked potato soup before this, though, but it was very easy!  This will join the other great recipes that reside in my cute little recipe box, for sure.

When I told my husband earlier in the day what we were having for dinner, he said "Soup?  That's it?  That's all we're having for dinner?"  Like he's going to starve if that's all he has.  My husband is not a soup kinda guy.  In fact, not even 20 minutes ago he told me it's a 'girly' food.  Pffft.  But of course when he tried it, it knocked his socks off!  He kept saying 'wow, this is so good!' like he was doubting my cooking skills.  He should know better than that.  He still made brats for himself, thinking the soup would not satisfy him to his liking.  But after a bowl of it, he was full... oh he's so silly.  :)

Baked Potato Soup
recipe from Our Best Bites
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 14oz can of chicken broth
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, baked
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, divided
  • 8 slices of bacon; cooked, crumbled, & divided
Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.  Add flour to pan.  Slowly add milk a little at a time while whisking constantly to eliminate lumps.  Whisk until smooth and then add chicken broth. (If for some reason your liquid isn't smooth, put in a blender and blend until smooth.)  Bring soup just to a simmer and heat until thickened, stirring often.

Once soup is thickened, turn heat down to medium-low.  Cut baked potatoes in half length-wise and use a spoon to scoop out potato flesh into the pot.  (I like to microwave my potatoes instead of baking them in an oven - same effect, A LOT less time!)  Use a wooden spoon to smash potatos, breaking up large clumps.  Add 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese and salt and pepper and stir until cheese is melted.  Remove pan from heat and stir in 3/4 C sour cream and 4 strips of the crumbled bacon.  Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and top with each serving with the remaining sour cream, onions, cheese, and bacon, if you desire.

My picture taking skills are horrid.  I promise you this picture doesn't even do it justice.  ;-)