Monday, February 27, 2012

Baking Monday - Sweetie Pies

Nothing fancy today ... I didn't have a plan in advance, so I searched for something that could be made with ingredients already in the pantry. This recipe is from the Mrs. Field's cookie book. They come together quickly (after all the double boiler chocolate melting) and are super chocolatey. Loving the three different chips - and the name!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bonus Baking Monday - Brownie Batter Pancakes

Happy President's Day! I made these pancakes this morning for a holiday treat.

The original recipe is portioned to make five small pancakes - not going to work in my house - so I adapted it to feed a family. This made 24 small pancakes:

Brownie Batter Pancakes

1/2 cup wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup milk

• In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar and salt.

• In a separate bowl, lightly combine egg, oil, vanilla and milk. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

The pancakes are a bit sticky - I had to gently nudge under each side of the pancake before the first flip.

No syrup needed - but a sprinkle of sugar was nice.

Despite the face, he actually liked these.

The kids still prefer chocolate chip pancakes, which are way too sweet for me, but I thought these were just right. They paired well with chocolate truffle tea!

Baking Monday - Fudge Stripe Cookies

I saw these cookies on Tracey's Culinary Adventures and wanted to try them right away, as I also have a fondness for making from scratch versions of store-bought goodies.

The cookies themselves are very blah - the dough is VERY oily, and there's no added sugar besides the corn syrup, so they are not really sweet. Clicking back to the original recipe, I see that they could be made with butter instead of oil, which is a substitution I would definitely recommend next time.

However ... dip them in chocolate (milk, preferably), and they taste pretty darn close to the store bought version. Storing them in the fridge keeps them crunchy. The kids liked them and said they "tasted like ice cream in a cookie!"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine Baking

Yes, of course I did a little Valentine baking this week.

Some conversation hearts for my sweeties ...

Bumpy hearts for story time ...

And some pastel hearts for teachers.

For Tuesday's dessert, I tried this recipe for ice cream sandwiches that's been hanging around my file for years (11 years, as I see now that it was from MSL in 2001!) I finally decided that I either need to make them or toss it out.

I started them with the traditional dotted lines, but stamping mini hearts was much quicker (and cuter!) I used my very favorite, well used, heart cookie cutters.

Turns out the secret to filling them is to soften the ice cream only slightly - just to scooping consistency. I thought that Wegmans caramel ice cream would be a crowd-pleaser.

These were quite yummy, though not sure if they are vastly superior to store bought for the effort involved. But I like the flexibility of making different shapes and using different kinds of ice cream for filling. Also, the recipe makes a ton of cookies - I froze half of them - so you could keep them on hand for other occasions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Whew! It's been a busy week. Yes, the kids all made valentines for their friends, I just haven't had a chance to talk about them before now. Theo liked these Mad Lib valentines, but wanted to write his own. I think he did a great job! His teacher told him that it was very creative.

(Writing by Theo, layout by Mom. And he asked me if it was okay to use the Mad Libs logo - I told him probably not, but we'd be okay because we weren't selling them. These kids know all about copyright rules!)

They were supposed to look like this, but the rolling and tying was proving too frustrating for him, so ...

... we broke out the never ending supply of coin envelopes and used those instead. (I bought this box of 250 for a wedding project 15 years ago -- and have used them for many, many kid projects and gift cards since -- and the box is STILL not empty!)

Clark chose these Jack Skellington valentines, which were good sticker and drawing practice for him. He had the most to make - 24 kids + 3 teachers - but did a great job, and liked signing his name on the back of each card.

Dora worked on hers privately, so I didn't even see what she was working on until they were done. She asked me for strips of paper that she folded into thirds, drew a picture with a valentine message, and sealed each one with a sticker. She tailored each one for the recipient's likes: basketball and cookies ...

... Harry Potter and penguins ...

... bumblebees and snowboarders ...

... Doritos and Spider-Man!

Her teachers each got a riddle - one from Harry Potter and one from The Mysterious Benedict Society.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Baking Monday - Peanut Butter Cups

I searched Pinterest for peanut butter desserts and found these! I wouldn't agree with the takes no time at all claim, but can definitely attest to the yumminess.

I used silicone baking cups, because I thought they'd be easier to fill than paper. I found the first step to be a bit time-consuming - I used a mini spatula to coat the sides of the cup about halfway up with chocolate, then let the cups set in the fridge while mixing the filling. The recipe suggests adding crushed graham crackers, which I did not have, so I used crushed pretzels instead (minus the extra pinch of salt) ... two thumbs up! Everyone liked the extra crunchiness. They did take quite a bit of time to set - the chocolate was still a bit sticky after two hours in the fridge, but overnight was perfect.

I'm not a huge Reese cup fan, but I LOVED these! Definitely worth a try!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baking Monday - Cherry Chip Cupcakes

My sister-in-law got in touch with me a few weeks ago because she wants to make my brother's favorite cherry chip cake for his birthday, and can't find the cake mix anywhere. I agree ... it's hard to find! I wanted to see if I could make a doctored version that tastes just as good.

I used this recipe, substituting chopped white chocolate chips for nuts. The frosting is vanilla buttercream with a quarter tsp of cherry flavoring. I used water instead of milk and chopped up the cherries and chips with my mini food processor.

Results? Delicious! It's been a long time since I've had cherry chip cake, but this tastes pretty darn close. And so priiii-tee. Would be a lovely Valentine treat!!