baking

OREO CHEESECAKE BARS = TO DIE FOR

oreo cheesecake bars

A long, long time ago, I promised a certain someone that if they did me a favor that they could choose my next baking adventure.

Well he came through on that favor and dropped a hint that he was a big fan of Oreo cheesecake. Challenge accepted.

It took me way too long to hold up my end of the bargain, but I finally, FINALLY, made it happen. I whipped up these oreo cheesecake bars earlier this week and I have to admit, they are freaking fantastic. Like way too good. I wanted to eat them all, but I had already promised them to someone else. NEVER AGAIN! (kidding)

If you catch yourself drooling over this photo, don’t worry, these are super simple to make.

Shout out to Table for Two for bringing this into our lives.

Ingredients

For the crust:

23 Oreo cookies

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

6 tbsp. sugar

6 tbsp. sour cream, room temperature

½ tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. salt

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

12 Oreo cookies, roughly chopped

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line an 8×8 inch baking dish with parchment paper. Let the sides of the parchment paper hang over the edge of the baking dish; you’ll use this to help you remove it from the dish.

2. To make the crust, pulse the Oreos in a food processor until they are finely ground. Add in the melted butter and continue pulsing until the cookies are moist.

3. Press the ground Oreos into an even layer over the bottom of your baking dish. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and then set aside. Don’t turn the oven off!

4. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium high until light and smooth. Mix in the sugar until well-combined.

5. Blend in the sour cream, vanilla and salt. Then, add egg and egg yolk until well-incorporated.

6. Stir in the chopped Oreos with a spatula.

7. Pour cheesecake batter over the crust and smooth out the top with the spatula. Bake for 40 minutes or until cheesecake is set around the edges but a little wobbly in the center.

8. Let cheesecake cool to room temperature (about 1 hour), then cover it and refrigerate until well chilled. If you want to be on the safe side, let it chill overnight, but a few hours should do it.

9. To cut the bars, lift the overhanging parchment paper from the pan and place it on a cutting board. Peel the paper away and slice into bars. Make sure you use a clean knife blade for each cut so you don’t mess up the cheesecake.

10. Devour. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve them. The creator of this recipe recommends keeping it in an airtight container for up to one week.

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baking

BANANA AND BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

blueberry banana muffins

I’m a little late on my promise to post this recipe. Oops!

Things have been kind of hectic lately. Work has been exhausting and nearly every weekend for the past month or so has been booked with family/friend obligations that have left me even more exhausted. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s meant pushing my blog down the priority list.

Hopefully things will start calming back down and I can settle back into my normal routine.

To make my breakfast a little more fun last week, I whipped up some blueberry banana muffins. I’d been meaning to make blueberry muffins and banana bread for awhile, but never got around to it. Finally, being half lazy and half inspired, I decided to combine them into one yummy treat.

I found tons of recips for blueberry-banana bread online. I went with this one from Damn Delicious. The recipe was for bread, but I decided to throw them into muffin tins. In hindsight I wish I would have made this as a bread because they weren’t as muffin-y texture wise as I had liked.

Further experiments with this combo are planned for the future.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup blueberries

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tins.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In the bowl if your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

4. Beat in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well combined.

5. Mash up your bananas, then add them to your stand mixer and beat until well combined.

6. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients until incorporated. Be careful not to over mix!

7. Fold in blueberries.

8. Divide batter evenly between cupcake tins. Place into the overn and bake for about 20-30 minutes. Baking times will vary a bit depending on your oven, so just keep an eye on them. When a tester inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean, you’ll know they’re ready.

9. Cool in the muffin tins for 15 minutes before tranferring to a wire rack to cool completely. And that’s it!

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baking

DARK CHOCOLATE & PISTACHIO COOKIES

dark chocolate/pistachio cookies

I’ve always been curious about pistachios, that cute little green nut, but never enough to actually try them. I knew the boyfriend was a fan and I’d heard friends and family rave about them, but you know me, I’m not one to try new things.

I pinned this recipe for dark chocolate chunk & pistachio cookies from one of my favorite blogs, Two Peas & Their Pod, months ago thinking maybe that could be my incentive to try them. When Jimmy’s birthday came around, I knew it was the perfect time to surprise him with these nummies.

Of course I let him be the first to try them, they were his birthday cookies after all. After he gave them the thumbs up I mustered up some courage to try them. And surprise! I like pistachios. At least, I like them when baked into a cookie with chocolate. I haven’t yet pushed myself to the point of trying a few out of the cannister I bought. Baby steps.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened/at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pistachios, shells removed
1 cup chopped dark chocolate
Sea salt, for sprinkling on cookies

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.

4. With the mixer on a slow speed, slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Don’t over mix!

5. Stir in the pistachios and chocolate chunks.

6. Using a spoon or cookie scoop, form tablespoons size balls of cookie dough. Place cookie dought on your prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle sea salt over cookie dough balls.

7. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Enjoy!

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baking

THE BEST F#*!ING SUGAR COOKIES I HAVE EVER MADE

Easter sugar cookies

Sorry for the profanity, but I’m like way too excited about this.

I’ve been on the hunt for a perfect sugar cookie ever since I discovered my passion for baking. I wanted a soft, thick cookie that was sweet but not rot your teeth sweet.

I usually ended up with cookies that were too sugary and too crunchy, and any time I would try to cut thicker cookies they would just end up spreading out and looking like a blob. The cookies were never gross, and people seemed to eat them up, but they weren’t the perfect cookie I always wanted.

So I spent some time this weekend combing my favorite blogs for a new recipe to try out. I landed on this one from Bake at 350 (a new blog discovery that I’m loving). The recipe is appropriately titled “perfect every time sugar cookies.”

I figured I’d give it a shot. I had my doubts when the dough came out crumbly, which the recipe said would happen, but still. I’m looking at it like, I’ve made a huge mistake. But it smoothed out and I calmed down a bit. Then I cut the cookies out, stuck them in the oven, and nearly did a cartwheel when they held their shape.

Then a tried another new thing: buttercream frosting. I always heard it was the bomb, so why not go all out and throw some buttercream on my new and hopefully perfect cookies?

James taste tested the first cookie and he quickly gave me the thumbs up. So I grabbed a little piece of his and shoved it in my mouth and was like OMFG I DID IT! Well, obviously the credit goes to Bake at 350 for creating this wonderful cooke recipe and Wilton for the buttercream recipe, but clearly I NAILED them.

I brought the cookies into work and got so much love. Several people commented that it was the perfect amount of sweet, that the cookies were soft and, of course, incredibly yummy.

Like I said. nailed it.

And since I’m blogging about it, that means I’m sharing the recipe! You’re welcome (;

Ingredients

For the cookies:

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 c sugar

2 sticks butter, cold & cut into chunks (I used unsalted, recipe creator used salted)

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

For the buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons milk (I used whole milk)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line your cookie sheets with

2. Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium size bowl and set aside.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix.

4. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom. * This is a key point. I recently read that you can beat/mix the wet ingredients all day long, but once you add the dry ingredients in you really don’t want to over mix. Stop as soon as the two are combined for the best results.

5. The dough will be pretty crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4″ to 3/8″ thick and cut into desired shapes. * I also realized that over flouring my work surface = over flouring my cookies before baking which = dryer/crunchier cookies. Don’t over do it!

7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. I went with 10. The cookies were still a nice, pale color with the teensiest hint of golden brown on the bottom. Let the cookies sit a few minutes on the sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.

8. Now it’s time for the frosting. In a large bowl, beat the shortening and butter until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat in vanilla.

9. Gradually add the sugar,one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape the sides and the bottom of bowl often. Once all of the sugar has been mixed in, the frosting will appear dry. Don’t panic, the next step will fix this.

10. Gradually add milk and beat at a medium speed until light and fluffy.

11. Spread the frosting in cookies using a small spatula or your finger. If you’re adding sprinkles, make sure to do it right after you get the frosting on the cookie. Otherwise it will harden up a bit and the sprinkles won’t stick.

If you’re a sugar cookie fan, give this recipe a try. I promise you will not regret it.

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baking

DID SOMEONE SAY DONUTS?

donuts

Can I just say that I am on fire today? I woke up at 4:30 a.m., went for a run/walk before work, knocked out everything on my to do list, did four interviews, wrote up a few things for the paper AND had time to bake when I got home. Hence the donuts.

I need to start having more days like this one.

Now that I’m finished being all impressed with myself, on to the donuts! I came across this recipe from Coco Cake Land on Saturday and just knew they would be my next baking adventure.

So I went to Michael’s and picked up some donut pans (I think they were about $9 a piece for and made 6 full sized donuts), gel coloring and sprinkles and go to work!

Ingredients

For the donuts:

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/3 cup golden brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 2/3s cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole milK

For the glaze: 

1 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 teaspoons whole milk

Sprinkles (optional)

Gel colors

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees; spray your donut pans with cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, vegetable oil and sugars until creamy.

3. Add eggs and beat.

4. Mix in the baking powder,  baking soda, nutmeg, salt and vanilla.

5. Begin slowly adding the flour, alternating between the flour and the milk. Mix until well combined.

6. Fill the donut pans about 3/4 of the way full. FYI, I recommend using a piping bag to do this part. I just sort of dumped the batter in on the first batch and it led to uneven donuts with crispy flyaways. You should have enough batter for about 20 or so full-size donuts, more if you’re using a mini pan.

7. Bake your donuts for about 8 minutes or until they are just lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

8. Immediately transfer donuts to a wire rack to cool.

9. While the donuts are cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk to create the icing glaze. If you’re going for one color of icing, consider doubling this recipe. If going for multiple icing colors like I did, make two batches but in separate bowls.

10. Dye the glaze using as much gel coloring as you like. Just remember the more you add the richer the color will be.

11. Dip cooled donuts into the glaze and let the excess run off into the bowl. If you want, add sprinkles while the icing is still wet, then place them back on the wire rack until the glaze dries. To keep your countertops from getting sticky with the runoff, place some parchment paper underneath the wire rack to catch all the drippings.

And that’s it! I couldn’t believe how easy these were to make and I think they turned out nearly perfect. I only say nearly because of those weird uneven donuts I made before I stopped being lazy and used my piping bag.

Think my coworkers are going to be stoked when I show up with these tomorrow morning?

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baking

BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM COOKIES + DARK CHOCOLATE

Bailey's Irish Cream cookies

I found myself in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit this weekend, so I decided to whip up some shamrock sugar cookies with an irish twist: Bailey’s Irish Cream. Because what’re more Irish than that??

This cookie came to be with the help of several different recipes, but the main cookie recipe I lifted from one of my favorite food blogs, Two Peas and Their Pod. I used her lofthouse style cookie recipe for the base, threw in some Bailey’s, and then dipped the cookies in dark chocolate after being inspired by these irish cream cookies from Buttercream Blondie. I wish I had had some sprinkles on hand to make them pop like they do in her photos.

I will say that the cookies did not come out as irish-cream flavored as I had hoped. If you’re thinking about trying these out,  I would recommend adding more Bailey’s to the recipe (you might then have to add extra flour) or just going with a standard sugar cookie and Bailey’s flavored icing. I’m considering trying the latter option out for next year.

Ingredients

6 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ cups sour cream (seriously! it gives the cookies their soft texture)

½ cup of Bailey’s Irish Cream (maybe a bit more)

2 bags of dark chocolate baking chips

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees; prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, baking soda & powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes or so. Add in eggs one at a time and beat until well incorporated. Add in vanilla extract and sour cream and beat slowly. Add the Bailey’s and beat slowly until well incorporated.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer and beat until dough forms. The dough should be a little sticky, but not overly so. If you need to, add more flour until dough is just slightly sticky.

5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least two hours or overnight.

6. Flour your working surface and roll out the dough to a quarter-inch thickness. Use shamrock cookie cutters to cut out cookies; I used two different sizes for a little variety.

7. Place cookies on cookie sheets and bake in the oven for 7 minutes. The cookies should be slightly golden around the edges. Immediatley transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

8. Place dark chocolate chips in a microwavable safe bowl and heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between.

9. Once cookies are cool, dip the left side of the cookie into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off the cookie before placing it on parchment paper to dry. If you want to speed up the drying process, chill cookies in the fridge for 30 minutes to set the chocolate.

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SALTED CARAMEL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

salted caramel chocolate chip cookies

Whenever I find myself feeling a little on the depressed side I get the urge to bake. Whether it’s my subconscious’ way of telling me stuffing my face with some sweet, sugary goodness will cheer me up or that I find channeling my energy into whipping up some tasty treats relaxing, I just go with it.

I’ve been pinning cookies on Pinterest like crazy lately, and I’ve ben dying to try out these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies. Seriously how perfect do they sound?

This was my first attempt at these sweet & salty cookies and overall I think they turned out pretty well. They were delicious, anyway.

I think next time I’ll try to find actual caramel bites (I had to use caramel squares that I cut up and I don’t think my pieces were bite-sized enough) and go with mini chocoalte chips rather than these ginormous ones I used. Why I’m complaining about having extra chocolate I will never know.

I also might go for a smaller cookie scoop: The recipe calls for tablespoons and I’m pretty sure mine were one and a half tablespoons. Since my cookies were larger, I gave them a few extra minutes in the oven until they were just browned on the bottoms.

I can’t wait to try these again. They were honestly the perfect ending to my otherwise less-than-amazing day.

Recipe by Two Peas & Their Pod.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cornstarch (I skipped this step)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup Kraft Caramel Bits

Sea salt, for sprinkling on cookies

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper so the cookies won’t stick!

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.

3. In a separate bowl or using your stand mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat well. Slowly add in the dry ingredients.

4. Stir in the chocolate chips and caramels until well combined.

5. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and onto your prepped cookie sheets. Make sure each cookie is about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the cookies dough before baking for 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

6. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Try not to eat all the cookies at once or you might explode.

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