Monday, March 7, 2011

Homemade Girl Scout Samoa Cookies

Out of all the Girl Scout cookies, Samoas (also known as Caramel deLites) have always been my favorites, with Thin Mints close behind. However, I can never seem to justify paying the amount they ask for a small box of cookies, so I don't get to indulge in them very often. I have been wanting to make my own samoas for at least a year, and I finally took the time to do it. The process is a little bit involved and this is no quick cookie recipe, but the results are quite worth it! This is an especially fun recipe to do with kids. They can help measure and add ingredients, cut out the circles, poke the holes, unwrap caramels, drizzle the chocolate--lots of little jobs they can help with. My 2-year-old had a lot of fun helping me mix the dough, roll it out, and cut out the circles. It's a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen.

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. milk

3 c. shredded coconut
12 oz. caramels
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. milk
8 oz. chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder on low speed. Once dry ingredients are mixed in well, add the vanilla and milk. The dough should come together to form a soft ball that isn't too sticky. You may need to add a little bit of flour if the dough is too sticky to work with.

Roll the dough out in between two sheets of wax or parchment paper, making it about 1/4 inch thick. Make cookie rounds using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter (I don't have one that small so I used a small juice glass). Re-roll the dough as many times as you need to use as much dough as you can. I got 40 cookies out of the dough. Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or use a baking mat). Using a knife, the end of a straw, your finger, the end of a wooden spoon, etc., make a small hole in the middle of each cookie.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned. Cool the cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then place them on a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before adding the topping.

For the topping
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread the coconut evenly on a baking sheet (be sure to use one with rims, if you have one) and toast for 20 minutes, being sure to stir it about every 5 minutes. Watch carefully near the end as it starts to brown, since coconut can quickly turn from "toasted" to "burnt." Remove from oven once the coconut is golden brown. Set aside.

Unwrap caramels and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Add salt and milk and heat on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping occasionally to stir. Once the caramels are melted and smooth, fold in the coconut. Spread the topping on the cooled cookies, using about 2-3 teaspoons per cookie. If the topping gets too hard to work with, pop it into the microwave for a few seconds.

While the topping sets, melt the chocolates in a double boiler (or a glass bowl placed over a pot of lightly simmering water) or in the microwave. If melting in the microwave, heat at 30-second intervals, stirring well to prevent scorching. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a piece of wax or parchment paper or on a baking mat.

Transfer the rest of the chocolate into a piping bag with a small tip or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle the cookies with chocolate. Let the chocolate set completely. This process can be sped up by placing the cookies in the fridge. Believe this point you are going to be really impatient to try one because they look so tasty! Store cookies in an airtight container, after trying a few, of course.

Notes: Like I mentioned above, this recipe is a bit time-consuming, but the results are so worth it. Have fun and enjoy your own homemade version of Girl Scout cookies!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Frozen Strawberry Squares

1 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted
2 egg whites*
1 c. sugar
2 c. sliced fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1- 1 1/2 c. whipped topping

1. Mix together flour, brown sugar, chopped walnuts, and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture on a cookie sheet, making pieces a little larger than peas. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to get even browning. Cool completely.
2. Spread most of the cooled crumb mixture on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the strawberry squares.
3. Combine egg whites, sugar, strawberries, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until stiff, at least 5-7 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Pour mixture over the crumb crust and use reserved crust crumbs for garnish. Freeze overnight, then cut in squares and serve. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer: The egg whites used in this recipe do not get cooked. If this is something that bothers you or that you don't want to risk, I suggest not making this recipe.

Notes: This is my grandma's recipe and was a favorite of mine growing up. I love the light, fluffy, fresh filling combined with the crispy crust and topping.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Raspberry Cream Cupcakes

1 box french vanilla cake mix
1 1/4 cups raspberry lemonade
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup white chocolate morsels
1 cup mashed raspberries, divided
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 24 cupcake liners in muffin pans. In a large bowl or mixer, combine cake mix, raspberry lemonade, eggs, and oil and beat on medium speed for about 2 1/2 minutes, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Stir in white chocolate morsels. Place 1-2 tablespoons of batter in each cup. Using 1/2 cup of mashed raspberries, place a small spoonful on top of batter. Fill each cup about two-thirds full with remaining batter. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
Whipped Topping
Beat heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in remaining 1/2 cup of mashed raspberries. Top cooled cupcakes. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes: These cupcakes were a quick creation for a friend's birthday (the card pictured above was made using a free birthday tag from The Crafting Chicks). I had some leftover raspberry lemonade that I had made with fresh raspberries, and initially wanted more of a raspberry lemonade flavor. Adding some lemon extract would probably achieve the right flavor, but I didn't have any on hand. The raspberry filling combined with the whipped raspberry topping really make this cupcake scrumptious! A little raspberry garnish would make these cupcakes look really cute, but I used up all my raspberries in this recipe.

Peach Raspberry Pie

¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Pastry dough for double crust (double this recipe here)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 pounds peaches (or enough to mostly fill your pie)
½ pint raspberries (about 1 cup)
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half the dough to a 1/4-inch-thick circle, about 13 inches in diameter. Gently place dough in bottom of pie dish.
2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together egg and milk to make a glaze; set aside. Combine peaches, raspberries, sugar, and flour. Pour into pie dish. Dot with butter.
3. Roll out the remaining dough to the same size and thickness. Add an extra tablespoon of flour if the peaches are very juicy. Brush the rim of the crust with the egg glaze. Place the rolled-out dough on top, trim to 1/2 inch over edge of pan, and crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers. Brush the top with the egg glaze and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30 to 40 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping, if desired.

Notes: This recipe is an adaptation of Martha Stewart's Peach Raspberry Pie recipe. I used fresh raspberries and peaches that we had picked at a local farm. The pie turned out really tasty, and looked beautiful with the glaze on top. Martha suggests chilling the dough before you add the filling, and then chilling the assembled pie before baking. I didn't do these steps, and it turned out just fine.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Peach Crisp

1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. oats
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter

Cut butter into dry ingredients until well blended. Set aside.

4 c. sliced peaches
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. butter

1. Mix peach slices, sugar, and cinnamon. Put in bottom of baking pan (8x8 or 9x9).
2. Cut butter into little chunks and place over the fruit. Sprinkle crust mixture on top and spread evenly.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

Notes: We used fresh peaches that we had picked at a local farm. Yummy! You can substitute apples in place of the peaches, as shown in this recipe.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with Mint Cream

This recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen. These cupcakes are not your ordinary cupcakes...they are flour-less. I had never made a soufflé prior to making these, and I had a lot of fun, even though the process was a little more work than simple cake recipes. And the results? Wow! So delicious!! I recommend this recipe to everyone. I doubled the cupcake recipe and got 24. Smitten Kitchen got 9 cupcakes out of a single recipe. I also did 2 1/2 times the original recipe for the whipped topping. I omitted the coffee powder.

6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used semisweet)
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs, separated
6 Tbs. sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

White Chocolate Mint Cream:
2 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
3 oz. heavy whipping cream
1/8 tsp. peppermint extract

1. Place the white chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour the cream over the white chocolate and let it sit for a minute until chocolate is melted. Whisk well. Add the peppermint extract and whisk again. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream. Chill until very cold, about two hours.
2. Line 12 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners. Stir chocolate and butter together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until mostly melted. Remove from heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth. (Smitten Kitchen suggests putting the butter underneath the chocolate in the pan so that it protects the chocolate from the direct heat.) Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
3. Using an electric mixer (a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer, actually works best here because the volumes are so small), beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Briefly beat in lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract into yolk mixture.
4. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form. (I think I may have over beaten the egg whites a little bit.) Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.
5. Bake cupcakes in oven preheated to 350 degrees until tops are puffed and dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack. When the cupcakes come out of the oven, they will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.
6. Once the cream has chilled at least 2 hours, beat it with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Remove cupcakes from pan and arrange on a platter. Fill each sunken top with a healthy dollop of white chocolate mint cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate if you would like. Enjoy!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Single (9-inch) Pie Crust

1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
3 Tbsp. cold water

1. Combine flour and salt in medium bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender (or you can use 2 knives using a cris-cross method) until all flour is blended and pea-sized chunks form.
2. Sprinkle with water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Toss lightly with a fork until dough forms a ball.
3. Press dough between hands to form a 5-6" "pancake." Roll dough into a circle on a lightly-floured surface. Trim circle to 1 inch larger than upside-down pie plate.
4. Fold dough into quarters. Unfold and press into pie plate. Fold edge under and flute.
5. For recipes using a baked crust, heat oven to 425 degrees. Prick bottom and side thoroughly with fork to prevent shrinkage. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. For recipes using an unbaked pie crust, follow directions given for that recipe.

Notes: This a very easy pie crust recipe. I have used others and have frequently been frustrated with trying to get the right consistency. Follow this recipe and you will have a perfect crust. It can be found in the Old-Fashioned Bake Sale cookbook.

Blackberry-apple Pie with Pecan Crumb Topping

1 pastry for a single crust pie
3/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 1/2 c. fresh blackberries
2 1/2 c. apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 c. pecans, chopped
3 Tbsp. butter

1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add fruit and gently stir until blackberries and apples are well coated. Set aside and allow the fruit to sit for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare pastry dough (if making your own) and roll out on lightly-floured surface. Place in 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.
3. To prepare topping, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add nuts and butter, using a fork or pastry blender to completely incorporate the butter with other ingredients.
4. Once fruit has stood for 20 minutes, spoon filling into pastry-lined pie pan. Place foil around the edge of the pastry to prevent from getting too brown. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil. Spread topping over filling, being sure to evenly cover the top. Continue baking for another 20-25 minutes, or until crust and top are golden brown and filling begins to bubble. Cool on wire rack. Serve as is, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or with a dollop of whipped topping.

Notes: This is a hybrid of this recipe and this one, along with my own adjustments. I love how it turned out! Very tasty! I like the textural and flavor combination of the apples and blackberries. I would recommend putting the pie pan on a baking sheet to keep your oven clean. The filling will probably bubble over a bit.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cranberry Surprise Loaf

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. apple juice
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 c. chopped nuts

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bottom only of 9" x 5" loaf pan. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add one egg and beat well. Set aside.
2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Stir in apple juice, butter, and beaten egg until well blended. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Spoon half of batter into greased and floured oan. Spoon cream cheese mixture evenly over batter. Top with remaining batter.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 65 to 75 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan. Cool 1 hour or until completely cooled. Wrap tightly and store in refrigerator.

Notes: This was very tasty! I think I put a little more than half of the batter on the bottom, so there was a little bit of cream cheese mixture that ended up on top. Very delectable!

Homemade Bread

5 1/4 c. bread flour
1 c. dry instant milk
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 rounded Tbsp. of saf-instant yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. liquid lecithin
2 c. hot tap water
1/4 c. oil

1. In a stand mixer, mix dry ingredients together. Add lecithin, water, and oil together. After mixing for 1 minutes, check the consistency to make sure the dough is not too dry (it should be very sticky). Mix for 5 minutes.
2. Spray counter and two loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide dough into half. Shape each half into loaves and place in pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 25 minutes. Bake each loaf for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Notes: This recipe is a hybrid of Pantry Secrets' bread recipe and my mother's roll recipe. It only takes an hour to get the dough mixed and the bread baked, so I love it! It can be used for cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, and any other recipe that uses bread dough.