Tuesday, November 24, 2009


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Peanut Butter Brownies

So I used to say that I wasn't much of a brownie person. They usually make me a little sick due to their density and chocolatiness. I used to say this until a few weeks ago when I started making brownies like every single week. I'm not sure how this happened but ever since I made them for the AIDS Walk Bake Sale, I've been on a brownie making/eating spree. I have no regrets however. This time though, I got a recipe from my cousin Autumn for Peanut Butter Brownies and I have to say they are amazing! I cooked them exactly according to the recipe which I usually don't do (I like to put a little of myself in to the mix) and they turned out perfectly. I even cooked them for the specified bake time (10 min, turn, then 15 min more) and they were just a little underdone in the center but cooked which is perfect if you ask any brownie lover. I loved that they were peanut butter and not chocolate for a change and they didn't make me ill even though I had a huge chunk.

I do have one bone to pick with the recipe trier/blog writer however and that is with her statement that you should always use Jiff or Skippy when baking and not the all-natural kinds. Are you kidding? Please. I think I can do with a little let high fructose corn syrup in my life. Use the all natural!! If that's what you like. I used a creamy Organic peanut butter and it was amazing. If you like chunky, go for that too. But for your own health, perhaps we can find one way of reducing our corn in-take and this might just be the time. Just saying....

I love making brownies because they are SO easy and these are no exception. Seriously, give them a try. Great for parties or large groups, it makes a ton! A 9x13in pan.

Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Brownies

With Love and Butter
Makes 12 huge squares or 24 small ones

You have your choice here of creamy or chunky peanut butter and I used chunky. When baking with peanut butter, you almost always want to use something like Jif or Skippy, not the all-natural kind.

2 eggs
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup peanut butter, at room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
2 tbsp. molasses
2 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F and move the rack to the middle position. Butter a 9×13-inch pan.

Whip the eggs and brown sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the peanut butter, melted butter, molasses, honey, vanilla, salt, and flour. Mix. Stir in 1 cup of the chocolate chips by hand.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan. Strew the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips over the surface. Bake 10 minutes, rotate the pan, and bake 15 minutes more or until the brownies turn golden and the center is set. Cool and cut into squares.


I forgot to have Collin take photos so the ones here are not mine, but from the blog I got it from.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Everyone's favorite right? Pretty much.

I love making these, they are way too good! The recipe I use says they are like the cinnabon rolls and I have to agree. Delicious and yet they don't contain all the preservatives and chemicals etc. that the cinnabon one's must have in them which is a definite plus. They are also probably the easiest baked good I ever make even though you make them from absolute scratch; starting with yeast, making the dough and letting it rise. Trust me, so so easy.

I like to do things a little different though.

I can't stop myself from wanting to cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs one at a time and then add the flour alternating with the milk/yeast mixture even though they tell me to just throw all the ingredients together. I just can't. It's too engrained in me. However, last time I'm pretty sure by adding the flour stepwise with the milk/yeast it overworked the dough and caused the gluten to break down a bit....that or I over baked them....which I did. Also, don't be tempted by the bread hook for the Kitchen Aid. It didn't work. I fell for it.

In all the times I've made these babies before, I've never overbaked them. I actually tend to underbake most everything because....well, it's just better. A little chewiness goes a long way. It was tricky for me this time though for some reason. Every time I looked in the oven, the rolls looked raw....so i kept baking and kept baking. I took them out probably 5 minutes after the recommended bake time and they looked gorgeous but it's a fine line with dough. Too long in the oven is way too long. It's like an exponential curve. Same is true of batters and well anything else that is baked. So when you bake these, and I highly recommend that you do, bake them for about 10-12 mintues and no longer. I realized a great test for seeing if they are done is keep an eye on the bottom of your baking pan (I like to use a glass caserole dish) and you can see if the butter that you lightly greased the pan with is burning. Also, the rolls tend to bake through first on the bottoms and sides, where they are touching the pan. So instead of checking the tops (like I made the mistake of doing), check the sides and bottom as well. Just a hint that I think works pretty well.

Aside from bake time issues, these are a cinch to make. You just mix everything up. Yes, cream the butter and sugar and add the eggs one at a time and the milk/yeast, but then just as a cup or two of flour, until you can form a lump and transfer it to a bowl. Work in the rest of the flour with your hands. Will make for happy gluten.

Let it rise for an hour. I put a heating pad under the bowl and a towel on top to help it rise. This is especially helpful in the winter when it's not warm enough (at least in my apartment!) for the dough to rise. After it's doubled in size (I'm kind of flexible on this amount) you roll it out to about 21in by 16in. Spread with a huge amount of butter (1/3C) and a ton of cinnamon and sugar and then roll up starting from the short side. Then cut in about 1.5in sections and place them in a baking pan. Then bake for ~10 minutes.

Let cool and frost with my old standby, vanilla buttercream. You can make it as thick or thin as you want depending on preferences. I made my a little thinner this time and I really liked it on the rolls, however, I would say a thick dollop on top is probably more satisfying.

For the buttercream I always use these proportions (yes I have them memorized.....):
1/4C butter
2C powdered sugar
1tsp. vanilla
~3Tbs. heavy cream

Photos by Collin Monda

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin Pie (from scratch?)

After a two week long hiatus of the cake club I am back. Several weeks ago I decided to undertake the task of making a pumpkin pie from scratch, as in from a pumpkin. You are supposed to use a pie pumpkin which is a smaller, sweeter pumpkin, primarily if not solely used for making pumpkin pies. I chose to make my pie this week which as you know is the week
after Halloween and despite it still be Autumn there are no pie pumpkins to be had. NONE. You would think people would still be enjoying pies the entire season and surely for Thanksgiving?! Do they take the pies away after Halloween and then bring them back again for Thanksgiving? I do not know, all I know is that I had to use a can of already cooked and pureed pumpkin. Fail. Although the rest of the pie is made form scratch, so it's not so much like cheating. I really wanted to make it from a pumpkin though. Oh well. Perhaps in a couple weeks?? Crazy grocery store. 

I made my crust the night before to save on time (great trick, it freezes and refrigerates amazingly well) and rolled it out and filled it the next night. The pie filling is always really strange to me because it's so liquidy. I always think, this is never going to gel and become firm. No way. Somehow it always does. Anyway, I was using a slightly shallower pie pan and didn't want to fill it up to the point of it was spilling all over the place when I moved it from counter to oven so I just put in enough to reach the lip and then used the leftover pie dough to make some little crusts to put in ramekins. I filled the ramekins with my leftover filling and baked the pie and little pies all together. I even had leftover dough after that and made schnittchens (had to). German tradition (or maybe just Schroeter tradition?) of taking the left over scraps of dough (schnittchen means "scrap" in German), rolling it out, spreading some butter over it, sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar, rolling them up and cutting them into little cinnamon rolls if you will. Delicious and a great way to use all of the dough. Plus, it always reminds me of my Grandpa, it's a kind of offering to him. I think he likes it. 

After about thirty minutes of baking I cut out a few leaves and acorns from the leftover leftover dough and placed them on top of my pies. Very cute. It's the little things. 

I read a recipe somewhere to make whipped cream with maple syrup to go with it and I got to say this is the best idea ever. Due to not wanting to bring whipping cream, beaters, and maple syrup to work and whipping it on my desk for group meeting, I decided to not try this delicious add-on but please do, I'm sure it's amazing! 

I would give you a recipe for the pumpkin pie but really, just use the Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe. It's the best. 

Oh but instead of using Libby's Pumpkin Puree I used an organic pumpkin puree. Just doing my part. Good for you and good for the earth! 

Photos by Collin Monda