Friday, August 28, 2009

Double Peanut Double Chocolate Cookies

A friend of mine was hosting a barbeque (cookout of you're a southerner who insists pulled meats must be present for it to be a barbeque). I decided to make up some cookies to bring. I got this recipe from epicurious, but instead of using chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, I used mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joes. These has a nice, cakey texture (if you like a cakey cookie), but I thought they were a little lacking in flavor.

Double Peanut Double Chocolate Cookies

Recipe says it makes 60, but I thought it made closer to 40

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (don't use natural)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups mini peanut butter cups

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder.

2. In another bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.

3. Beat in flour mixture, and stir in mini peanut butter cups.

4. Drop dough by teaspoons two inches apart onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets for ten minutes before removing to baking racks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Browned Butter

Sorry for the delay in my blogging. It's been a busy few weeks, and I've been feeling a little lazy (as is known to happen when the summer heats up). Anyway, a few weeks ago, while I was back home, my mother brought a recipe for Browned Butter Oatmeal Cookies to my attention. I'd never used browned butter before, and the article in which she had seen the recipe (in an issue of Vogue apparently), had boasted that they were the best oatmeal cookies. The recipe is very simple, and essentially makes shortbread with oatmeal in it. The resulting cookies were excellent. Crispy and sandy, with a wonderful toasted taste. These were definitely worth the foray into brown butter. The brown butter actually used in the recipe is a little odd itself, and I've included the recipe for it after the cookie recipe. A candy thermometer is helpful here.

Oatmeal Brown-Butter Cookies

Makes about 30

1 cup browned butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups quick cook oatmeal (not instant)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat together the sugar and softened butter (the goal is not to cream the butter here, I found this took a fair amount of jabbing with the blunt end of my spoon).

2. In another bowl, combine the oatmeal, baking soda, salt, and flour. Using a wooden spoon, mix these into the butter (this again took a lot of mashing). Mix in the vanilla. The result should be crumbly, but cohesive enough to squeeze into balls.

3. Place 1 inch balls of dough 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Flatten the cookies with a fork until they are 1/4 inch thick.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, until pale-gold. Let cool on their sheets for a minute, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

5. Store in an airtight container.

Browned Butter

This makes 2 cups, more than you'll need for one batch of cookies

1 lb butter
1 cup powdered milk

1. Take a large bowl and fill it with ice, put a smaller, but still sizable bowl in it (ideally metal). You will need to pour your butter into this later. Set aside.

2. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the powdered milk. Continue heating the butter, stirring occaissionally. The butter will begin to bubble and foam, this is the water boiling off.

3. Continue heating the butter until it stops sizzling. It should begin to darken. Let the butter cook until it is a medium brown, like the color of a paper grocery bag. Alternatively, the temperature should reach between 245 and 250 degrees F.

4. Pour the butter into the prepared cold bowl. Immediately begin vigorously whisking the butter. At first butter will begin to solidify around the edges, use your whisk to scrape this off and reincorporate it into the whole butter mass. Stop whisking when the butter becomes too thick. This will take some time.

5. Move to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

White Russian Cupcakes

These were the number three cupcakes in the poll I took of my coworkers. For those who don’t know, a white Russian is a drink made with vodka, kahlua and milk. I have to say, I was not a huge fan of these cupcakes. I used a recipe I got here. It could be the all purpose flour I used in place of the cake flour, but I found the texture of the cupcakes to be a little rubbery. The flavors of the alcohol also didn’t come through strongly enough. I frosted the cupcakes with a kahlua ganache, which might have been a mistake, since the chocolate flavor seemed to overwhelm everything else. The whipped cream in the original certainly would have been more faithful to the original drink, but that’s the way it goes.

White Russian Cupcakes

Makes ~15 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp b. powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 egg white, room temp
1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp vodka
3 tbsp kahlua

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, salt and baking powder). Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat.

5. Add vodka and kahlua. Continue beating until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.

6. Using a ¼ cup measure, carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

7. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 5 minutes. Brush tops of cupcake with kahlua. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

Kahla Ganache

8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
½ cup kahlua
½ cup heavy cream

1. Put the kahlua and chocolate in a bowl.

2. Heat the heavy cream to a simmer, pour over the chocolate

3. Let the cream sit for a minute, then stir until thoroughly mixed. Let the ganache cool until it thickens enough to be spreadable.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Decadent Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cupcakes

For the end of my summer job, one of my coworkers threw a party so that all of us could celebrate. I, inevitably, made cupcakes (this really has been a cupcake heavy summer, probably because my cupcake pans are all I brought with to DC). For this particular party I let my coworkers vote on cupcake choices. I made the first and third choices (the second was made by another coworker). The number one choice was chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes. For the cupcake base I used one of my standard chocolate-cupcakes, which I filled with a peanut-butter mousse, and frosted with a peanut-butter ganache. The cupcakes were really rich, but excellent. Key to their success was cutting out large cones from the centers of the cupcakes, so that lots of mousse could get in.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes ~26

2 sticks unsalted butter
½ cup cocoa-powder
¾ cup water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 T vanillas
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 T cinnamon
¼ tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

2. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over low heat. Add in the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Then add the water and mix until smooth again. Remove from heat

3. One at a time mix in the sugar, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla

4. Sift the dry ingredients over the wet, and whisk until well combined.

5. Fill cupcakes using a ¼ cup measure. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let them cool thoroughly before frosting.

Peanut-Butter Mousse

1 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1 8oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T vanilla
1 cup chilled whipping cream

1. Beat the peanut butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and well blended.

2. Using clean, chilled beaters, and a chilled bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks.

3. Fold ¼ of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Fold in the remaining whipped cream ¼ at a time. Fold until smooth and well mixed. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.

Peanut-butter Ganache

6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

2/3 cup heavy cream

1. Put the peanut butter and chocolate in a bowl.

2. Heat the heavy cream to a simmer, pour over the chocolate

3. Let the cream sit for a minute, then stir until thoroughly mixed. Let the ganache cool until it thickens enough to be spreadable.


1. Cut large cones out of the cupcakes. Cut the bottoms off of the cones.

2. Fill the cupcakes with peanut butter mousse. Re-cover the tops of the cupcakes.

3. Pour or spread the ganache over the top of the cupcakes. Refrigerate until 30-45 minutes before serving.