by abby on December 13, 2011 | Comment
My whimsical handmade stripes and dots paper garlands and ornaments are so fun that they gave me inspiration for another baking project.
I love the combination of stripes and dots. The black and white color palette adds the right amount of sophistication too. If I was to host a stripes and pok-a-dot party, I would want a dessert to match. Brilliant! My first thought was chocolate. So I baked decadent chocolate brownies and covered them with vanilla frosting. The fun part comes next! I decorated the tops of the brownies with black decorating gel into stripes and pok-a-dots.
FYI: save time and stress and buy black decorating gel instead of making black from frosting. You’ll be a much happier baker. Ta-da! Amazingly cute brownies to compliment your party’s theme.
by abby on August 23, 2011 | Comment
Summer is winding down here in upstate New York. Already these last couple of days, I’ve had to wear a sweatshirt while I’m sipping my morning cup of tea. The cooler morning reminds me that Fall is just around the corner and that also means the first day of school too! Sharpen those pencils, collect the notebooks, and clean out that lunchbox. To make the start of the school year a little sweet, I was inspired to bake a homemade dessert that could be easily added to child’s lunch.
I created Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies. Yum! These cookies are quick to pull together and using dark chocolate chips adds a great twist and reduces the overall sugar consumption too. I also purposely make my cookies on the smaller size. My philosophy is you get to enjoy the indulgence without the regret. One other tip for these cookies: avoid all those nasty hydrogenated oils by using Organic Crunchy peanut butter (I used the Wegmans kind). Grab your bowls and mixer let’s bake some cookies!
Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup crunchy-style peanut butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-1 cup dark chocolate chips
(60% dark chocolate Ghirardelli chips recommended)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter together until fluffy. This can take several minutes, about 3-5minutes. Add the sugars and beat smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla and mix. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly.
4. Stir in the dark chocolate chips.
5. Drop by half-full rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between each one for expansion.
6. If chips allow for it: use a fork, lightly indent with a crisscross pattern, but don’t overly flatten cookies.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Do not over bake! The cookies may appear underdone, but they are not. (My time was 10 on the mark.)
8. Cool cookies on sheet for 1 minute, then remove to cool completely.
These cookies are not too sweet. The crunchy peanut butter add a touch of crunch and roasted peanut flavor. Always the big kid at heart, D’s preferred method of eating a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is to dunk it in milk first, then take a bite. Enjoy the tasty treat and happy back to school!
by abby on July 5, 2011 | Comment
I hope your Fourth of July long weekend went well. The weather was just perfect for all the cookouts and picnics that I’m sure occurred. Alas, I came down with a nasty cold over the weekend, so my celebrating was very low key. The highlight of the weekend was creating a tasty dessert for D and I. I wanted to create something of the “red white and blue” variety. Plus, I wanted to use my cute individual tart pans, so the conclusion: Blueberry-Orange Tarts! Delish!
They were a simple to prepare AND can even be prepared the day before. If you want to show off with your family and friends here’s how you can do it too:
1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (just about 3 minutes, cook until fragrant)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs, preferably whole-wheat
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
Pinch of salt
8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened to room temp.
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably grade B, divided
1 medium orange
3 cups fresh blueberries
1. To prepare the crust preheat the oven to 325-350 degrees, depending on your oven. Toast the walnuts. While the walnuts are toasting crumble graham crackers into large crumbs. To avoid trans fats, look for graham crackers without partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
2. Coarsely chop walnuts in a food processor. Add graham cracker crumbs and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add in the cinnamon. Sir until blended.
3. Wash blueberries and place in a bowl. Zest the orange and sprinkle half of the orange zest on the blueberries. Set the remainder zest aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the crumb mixture, butter, oil and salt; toss to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1/4 inch up the sides of removable-bottom tart pans. A back of a spoon works well and so do your fingers! Set the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until dry and slightly darker around the edges, about 8-11 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
4. To prepare filling: Beat cream cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Slice orange in half and squeeze juice into the smooth filling. Beat until all blended.
5. When the crust is cool, spread the filling evenly into it, being careful not to break up the delicate crust. Arrange blueberries on the filling, pressing lightly so they set in. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup over the berries. Sprinkle remaining orange zest on top of each tart. Chill for at least 1 hour to firm up or these tarts can be prepared the night before.
This dessert is not too sweet. The ripe blueberries with a hint of orange offers a fantastic taste of Summer. Bring them to your next party!