“I browned butter for you!” Or, Mini-Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups.

Doesn’t that sound like a line from a soap opera? Scene: Eleanor, finding the door to boyfriend Jonathan’s apartment unlocked, steps inside, only to find Jonathan making out with Alexandra. Alexandra having fled the scene, Eleanor confronts an embarrassed, red-faced Jonathan in his entirely unkempt kitchen.

Eleanor: A year of dating and this? That? You with that woman? My God, Jonathan, I’ve done all I could for you – sat with you as you wept over Jane Eyre, drove you to the bakery every morning when your car was in the shop so you wouldn’t have to live a day without Josie’s bagels, didn’t laugh at the stupid things you said after your wisdom teeth were taken out. I made puff pastry for you from scratch! I slaved over that eighteen-layer cake for your mother’s birthday! I browned butter for you, Jonathan. And there you were, with that tramp who can only make cookies from refrigerated cookie dough.

End scene.

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Maybe I should be a writer.

Anyways. I’m still having a love affair with my mini muffin tin, because mini muffins and small cups of various baked goods are automatically 50 zillion times more delicious than any standard-sized or jumbo counterparts. Size matters. And what’s better than cookies baked in a mini-muffin tin? And what’s better than cookies covered in cinnamon and filled with caramel in a mini-muffin tin? (Your boyfriend eating them is even better, actually.)

I’m a big fan of this recipe…but I wanted cups. So I searched the internet and found a recipe for maple snickerdoodle cookie cups…but, the addition of maple was overwhelming. Brown butter? (Everyone says browned butter smells nutty. To me, it smells like pancakes.) Vanilla? Cinnamon? Caramel? And you want me to add maple? No. Can’t do it. Maybe next time, when my caramel fiend of a boyfriend won’t be around.

After tweaking with reckless abandon (sort of), the results are…delicious. And perfect. Also, delicious.

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#1 rule of baking: always “accidentally” add more vanilla extract than necessary. Oops, my hand slipped. Better let the overflow happen.

#2 rule of baking: there is no such thing as too much cinnamon.

Add the maple if you want. Fill with chocolate if you want. What-ever you want.

Go forth and enjoy. Before any significant others consume them before you get the chance.

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Mini Caramel-Stuffed Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups
Recipe adapted from Beyond Frosting and inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

For the cinnamon-sugar coating

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray or line with muffin liners.
  2. Brown the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, stir constantly until it turns brown with a nutty aroma.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the browned butter with sugars and cinnamon. Set aside and allow the butter to cool.
  4. When butter/sugar mixture has cooled, beat in the egg and vanilla.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  6. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter until well combined.
  7. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the coating in a small bowl. Roll about a tablespoon of dough in the cinnamon sugar and place into the mini muffin pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned.
  9. Allow the cookies to sit in the pan for 15-20 minutes before removing and cooling completely. Devour.

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Easy Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake.

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Confession: I’ve never been a fan of strawberry shortcake, which is probably akin to saying I hate America or summertime or butterflies. I mean, for whatever reason, the strawberries always taste more like fake syrup than real fruit. My biggest issue is the tasteless cake’s texture – every shortcake I’ve ever eaten has been incredibly dry, and even when it’s soaked and soggy from the infiltrating strawberry juice, it still seems to be devoid of any flavor or pleasantries.

Whew. Feels good to get that off my chest.

Another confession, or perhaps merely a deprivation due to the sin of my parents: I’ve never eaten fresh strawberries before. I’ve had pounds of fresh vegetables, and I’ve eaten raspberries and blackberries fresh off the bushes in front of a friend’s house, but…never fresh strawberries. Riding in the backseat as we drove through the country when I was a kid, my mouth watered whenever we passed a pick-your-own-berries path or fresh berry stand. Yet for all the desires in my childish heart, I never summoned up enough courage to ask my parents if we could go berry picking out of fear of being shot down.

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And that, my friends, brings us to this week, when my mother came home after a day with her sister, bearing strawberries that her previously mentioned sister (aka my aunt) had gotten that day. And holy. Cow. I will never look at store-bought strawberries the same again. So juicy, so flavorful! Gah! Maybe I’ll plant some. (Uh, on second thought. No, I don’t have time for that.)

The arrival of fresh strawberries meant only one thing to my father: strawberry shortcake. Desperate to bake something after a long day folding boxes at work, I happily obliged, although he complained that they wouldn’t be made out of Bisquick (the horror!). Along with the strawberries, my aunt had also given me a bag full of cookbooks; conveniently, I found a strawberry biscuit shortcake recipe in one of them and got right to work. On a whim, I threw in a dash of cinnamon and added more flour because what was supposed to be a mound looked a bit like a ball of wet flour. Drop drop drop on the baking pan…and 14 minutes later, they were ready to go.

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Typical strawberry shortcake dealio: dish, biscuit, strawberries, biscuit, strawberries, whipped cream. Unfortunately, we seemed to be lacking in whipped cream so I substituted vanilla ice bean ice cream (I’m un-American even when I’m trying to be American…ugh). Having two enormous shortcake biscuits left after making an enormous mound for my father, I decided to make a smaller one for myself just out of curiosity.. Dish spoon mouth – and oh man, one bite cured me of my strawberry shortcake aversion. The biscuit was crunchy on the sides and very top, incredibly soft and flavorful. It tasted like something, something good – slightly sweet with a bit of cinnamon kick. Not cardboard, but fluffy, a cross between cake and an abnormally delicious sugar cookie, the perfect seat for a tumble of strawberries and an obscene amount of whipped cream.

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It didn’t take long for my father to come to the same (loud) conclusion. No Bisquick shortcakes in this house.

It’s officially the weekend, and you deserve an easy, delicious bowl of sweet happiness. Go ahead.

Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake
adapted from The Best of Country Cooking 1999

(Note: this is a small recipe that can easily be doubled or even halved if desired. Only use a dash of cinnamon! The number of shortcakes will vary with how big you make the mounds.)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour (all-purpose or a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cold
  • 4 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced
  • whipped cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet; set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture begins to look like coarse crumbs.
  3. Stir in 3 tablespoons of milk plus the vanilla vanilla until a thick batter forms. If it still seems too wet, at up to an additional 1/4 cup of flour.
  4. Drop the batter in mounds onto the baking sheet and brush with remaining milk.
  5. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes until you can get them off the sheet without breaking them.
  6. To serve: place one of the biscuits on a plate or in a bowl; top with strawberries. Place another biscuit on top of that one; top with more strawberries and whipped cream. Devour.

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Sugar-Doodle Cookies.

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I have a confession: I only made these so I could take a big, fat spoonful of cookie dough.

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Yep, like one of those spoonfuls.

I know, I know. Salmonella and sugar comatose and who could forget that one cookie dough overdose encounter? But when I’m right in the middle of that wondrous bloodbath from Mother Nature (sorry, guys, and everyone else who has weak constitutions and just visualized that phrase), I want grease and meat and sugar – but not at the same time, mind you.

Enough of my hormonal cravings. Let’s talk cookies.

These are the soft, sugary cousins of the snickerdoodle. I will unashamedly admit that I’ve always loved sugar cookies (well, properly-made sugar cookies) for their simplicity. These are even better than your run-of-the-mill sugar cookie…and definitely not a hard, tasteless one. Who wouldn’t like a cookie that tastes like straight-up sugar, butter, and vanilla?

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Oh, and you only need one bowl. None of that “in a separate bowl” nonsense.

The original recipe yields one dozen “generous-sized cookies”, but even after making 20 tablespoon-sized ones, I had enough dough remaining for 9 cookies half the size of my face. If you’re feeling generous, you’ll probably end up with 15 or 16. (Unless I’m doing it wrong. Which is always a valid possibility.) Regardless of how many are made, these are incredibly simple but incredibly delicious…soft, sweet, comforting.

It also calls for bread flour, something I have none of but will hopefully acquire in the future. If you have some on hand, use it! Bread flour will make the cookies softer and chewier. I wouldn’t recommend omitting the salt, either – just a pinch of salt will make the vanilla & sugar more pronounced through its small bit of contrast.

Also, my pictures suck. Mine weren’t pretty enough to photograph…mostly because I had eaten/given away most of the pretty ones.

See? Shoddy photography and unfortunately unattractive cookies. Sigh.

See? Shoddy photography and unfortunately unattractive cookies. Sigh.

Don’t let them fool you, though! Just because they look like beige disks doesn’t mean they will taste bland, or even remotely bland. Let them surprise you.

Only after I put these in the oven did I have the idea of rolling them in (more) sugar. There’s always next time, though.

(The cookie dough stomach ache was worth it, by the way)

Sugar-Doodles
from Averie Cooks
makes 2 dozenish cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour (all-purpose can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • Sugar for rolling, optional

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and mix until creamed.
  2. Add egg, cream/milk, and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour(s), baking soda, and salt; mix until just combined.
  4. Transfer dough to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (up to 5 days).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Scoop the dough into mounds the size of your choosing on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until pale golden and edges have begun to set. (It’s ok if they appear slightly undercooked – they will firm up as they cool) Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Devour.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake: A Mother’s Day Treat.

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[Yes, yes, I’m a week late, I know. Job hunting has been excruciating, not to mention the massive amount of house cleaning, preparations for a garage sale, and less-than-stellar internet connection.]

Every mother has a favorite dessert – blueberry pie, lemon cake, walnut brownies, strawberry mousse. My mother’s just happens to be cheesecake.

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Even though she is a self-professed chocoholic, one bite of chocolate cake will cause her to sit back in her chair, smack her lips, and proclaim, “Too rich!” Usually, she can’t make it through a whole brownie because it overwhelms her.

But all that is put aside when she is given cheesecake.

Since my childhood, I’ve witnessed my mom crushing graham cracker crumbs, beating sugar and cream cheese, carefully scraping the batter into a fancy pan, and bake for hours. The waiting was always agony and I was usually sentenced to tip-toeing around the house in case I accidentally managed to upset the baking cheesecake. Oftentimes I wouldn’t even get to try the finished product because she’d take it to a get-together with her friends or some grown-up party.

Then again, she usually didn’t get to try it, either.

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Being away from my mom all year was difficult, so I wanted to make sure I did something extra special for Mother’s Day. What do you get for the mom who already has everything, whose taste in jewelry is far beyond your price range, whose husband groans whenever she receives another sentimental “knick-knack”, and who insists she wants nothing for Mother’s Day except the presence of you and your father?

Cheesecake.

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I’ll spare you from the boring details and enthusiasm received when this was set on the table. All you need to know is that this recipe is delicious. You make the curd, you make the cheesecake, let it cool and refrigerate. It’s important, though, to refrigerate it overnight!

Don’t be intimidated by the curd, either. It’s basically a thick jam. You could even double the curd recipe if you want your cheesecake extra strawberry-y…which is what I’ll do next time. I tweaked the original recipe a little bit, using fewer graham cracker crumbs because the crust ended up being higher than the actual cheesecake and far too crumbly. Fortunately, my family cares more about taste than presentation and the crumbs were generously sprinkled over the slices.

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Best when topped with fresh strawberries.

And love.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake
from Chocolate Moosey

Ingredients
For the strawberry curd

  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 tsp corn starch

For the cheesecake

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3 8 oz. packages of Neufchatel, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup strawberry curd

Directions

  1. To make the strawberry curd: Combine strawberries and sugar into a blender or food processor; puree until smooth.
  2. In a small bowl, whick together lemon juice and corn starch; add to strawberry mixture and puree until as smooth as possible.
  3. Strain the mixture into a small sauce pan; discard the seeds.
  4. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to boil. Cook a few more minutes until the mixture thickens.
  5. Strain again into a heatproof container. Let cool to room temperature.
  6. To make the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press into the bottom and sides of the greased pan; place on a cookie sheet and set aside.
  8. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  9. Beat in lemon juice and extracts. Make sure there are no lumps left in the batter.
  10. Pour the batter into the pan. Add spoonfuls of the strawberry curd to the top and swirl with a knife. Bake for 60 minutes or until center is mostly set.
  11. Cool for ten minutes on a wire rack; run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen it. Let cool completely on the wire rack, then refrigerate overnight. Devour.

Egg-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffle Balls.

[FYI: this post has been in my drafts for about a week. It’s taken a while to get ahold of the pictures I took, since I took them on someone else’s camera. They’re kind of shoddy, due to the fact I took the pictures during quiet hours when all the lights were off in the dorm lobby. Anyways, here you go.]

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Happy finals week!

HA. That’s a contradiction if I’ve ever heard one.

Finals, oddly enough, have been known to cause stress. Lots of stress.

And stress can only be remedied by stress-eating.

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Particularly by eating no-risk-of-salmonella cookie dough.

If you’re patient, these become neatly chocolate-coated and refrigerated truffles. If patience is not one of the traits included in your gene pool, you can eat the dough straight out of the bowl. Straight. Out. Of. The. Bowl.

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This recipe is simple to whip up, especially if you’re pressed for time or need want something sweet in a hurry. Sweetened condensed milk takes the place of where the egg would be in a normal chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the salt and baking soda give the balls that special cookie dough flavor.

Deliciousness completely devoid of turning on the oven. Or your mother yelling at you for eating raw dough.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffle Balls
Slightly adapted from this recipe
Makes about 48 (depending on the size you roll the balls)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (preferably miniature; coarsely chopped chocolate works too)
  • additional chocolate for melting & dipping

Directions

  1. Beat butter and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl until smooth.
  2. Beat in vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add flour, alternately with sweetened condensed milk, to the sugar and butter, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Roll the dough into balls and place onto baking sheets lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  6. Melt chocolate in microwave or saucepan over medium heat. Dip dough balls in chocolate, place back on baking sheets, and refrigerate again until firm, about 15-30 minutes. Store in the refrigerator until all are devoured.

Super Easy Peanut Butter Cookies.

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I adore peanut butter.

I mean, really. What other source of protein would I find if not for peanut butter? How pathetically boring would my life be if I was only left to spread butter on my toast? Bananas would seem sad and lonely. Life would be grey and dank. If I ever developed a peanut allergy, I would cry. Then I’d suck it up and risk death by choosing to eat peanut butter by the spoonful anyway. And if I ever end up in the hospital, peanut allergy-free, I’ll ask for peanut butter in my IV.

My world would stop turning without peanut butter.

Peanut butter > gravity

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And if you’re a peanut butter freak (or, if you prefer another noun, maniac, fiend, enthusiast, admirer…), you will love these cookies.

Once upon a time, there were three lazy college students who were tired of studying and craving baked goods. Particularly, something not requiring flour or much effort. And, voila: enter the flour-free peanut butter cookies.

Four ingredients. Well, five if you use two different kinds of sugars. And ONE BOWL, none of that “mix & set aside” nonsense. Mix a little, stir a little more, roll, bake, and BAM. Peanut butter goodness. Ridiculous peanut butter goodness.

The peanut butter flavor is so pronounced because of the lack of flour. Less flour, more peanut butter? If that doesn’t scream “health food” to you,  I don’t know what will.

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Oh hey there, beautiful. Peanut butter perfection at its finest.

Have I mentioned these are easy? And beautiful?

Especially warm from the oven.

They’re adaptable, too. I like brown sugar in peanut butter cookies because the softness of the brown sugar seems to better complement the peanut butter – at least, my taste buds think so. Next batch, I want to cut down on the sugar to bring out the peanut butter flavor any more – but, if you’re like my friend Kat, you can add more sugar if you prefer a little more sweetness. You can add chocolate chips, different extracts, cocoa, sea salt on top, nuts, even Nutella…

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I’m not kidding when I say these were all gone in about 15 minutes.

What are you waiting for? If you’re on the Internet, you definitely have 20 minutes to spare so you can make these. Get to it.

Flour-free Peanut Butter Cookies
slightly adapted from Anna’s website
Makes about 20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used natural creamy)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix peanut butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla until combined.
  3. Roll about one tablespoon of the dough into a ball and place on baking sheet. Flatten with a fork, creating a criss-cross pattern.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are golden around the edges. Devour.